Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is testing the hiding of like counts for users on the site just like it did with Instagram. The company will pilot the same as from Friday for Australian Facebook users. However, the company has not indicated whether the change will apply permanently to other regions.
Facebook to hide likes
The test will not show how many likes a post has received to the public but will instead show that a friend and others liked the post. This limited test is for gauging if the feature will enhance the sense of wellbeing of users. A Facebook spokesperson indicated that they are running a pilot where the reaction, like as well as video view counts, are not public across the site. He added that they would collect information and determine whether the change could improve user’s experiences.
At the beginning of this month, Hong Kong app researcher Jane Manchun Wong indicated that she had found a prototype code hidden in the company’s Android app. This was an indication that the company was testing hiding of likes.
Facebook wants people to focus on content and not reactions
The spokesperson indicated that users could still see who liked the post, and the only thing they are removing is the count. They want people to focus on the quality of interactions and content instead of the number of reactions and likes. He added that the company had consultations with anti-bullying specialists and mental health professional regarding the change. Technology experts had also predicted the change.
Hiding the number of likes on a post may seem like a small change, but it could have a significant impact. It could help in curbing feelings of depression and anxiety associated with the use of social media.
The change follows an earlier move by the company to hide likes on Instagram. It piloted the change in Canada before expanding to other countries such as Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Italy, Ireland, and Japan. Social media influencers have decried the move by stating that the display of the likes is a crucial business metric.