Following in the footsteps of Instagram, Facebook is testing hiding likes starting this week
- Facebook is hiding like and reaction counts on its platform in a test starting Friday for a limited number of users in Australia, TechCrunch reported Thursday.
- The test is similar to one Facebook is conducting on its sister platform Instagram, where it rolled out to users in seven countries.
- Facebook's reasoning for removing likes is to emphasise the quality of content users share, and take away the emphasis from a popularity metric, with associated mental health implications for teens.
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Facebook has started testing a change to its platform that aims to take the emphasis off one of the company's most iconic symbols: the thumbs-up button.
Starting Friday, Facebook is rolling out the test visible to a limited number of users in Australia, TechCrunch reported. The number of likes and reactions (such as hearts and other emojis) on posts and photos, as well as video view counts, will be hidden to the public under the test.
The test to hide like counts comes just two months after Instagram - a Facebook-owned platform - started rolling out its own test, hiding likes for select users in seven different countries. Just like with the Instagram test, the like feature won't be entirely eliminated from Facebook. The once-visible numbers and metrics will just be made private, meaning you'll still be able to see those likes and reactions on your own posts.
"We are running a limited test where like, reaction, and video view counts are made private across Facebook," a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement. "We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people's experiences."
In the cases of both Facebook and Instagram, the goal has been to shift focus to the quality of content posted, rather than the quantity of likes and views these posts accrue. Instagram head Adam Mosseri told BuzzFeed News earlier this year that taking away likes on the platform would help to create "a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves."
Battling for likes and comparing your numbers to others has transformed social media into a sort of popularity contest, which many say is taking a toll on the mental health of users - particularly social media-savvy teens.
Several studies and numerous psychologists have found a link between the amount of time teens spend on social media and depression. Celebrities such as Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato have publicly spoken out about needing to take breaks from their social-media accounts in order to care for their mental health. Gomez has said social media has been "dangerous" for both herself and for teens.
Any number of people who have spent time on social media can attest to its addictive qualities, which are even apparent in this viral video of a chimpanzee mindlessly scrolling through an Instagram news feed.
But Facebook and Instagram aren't the only platforms to weigh the effects of like counts on the mental health of its users. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said if he had to go back and redesign the platform, he "wouldn't even have a like count in the first place." Dorsey has floated the idea before of getting rid of the "like" button to ensure the platform is "incentivizing healthy conversation," but Twitter has denied that will happen anytime soon. YouTube has also recently made moves to eliminate some popularity metrics from its platform.
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