Just after Instagram, now Facebook also plans to hide like counts publically.
App researcher/reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong, on Monday, found hidden code inside Facebook’s Android application that hides the exact amount of likes on a post from everyone but the original poster. According to her tweet, other users will just see some reaction emojis and that it was liked by “a friend and others” rather than a specific number of other people. Facebook on the same day confirmed that they are considering a test that would hide like counts, but that the test has not started running yet.
The test would make enough sense as Facebook-owned photo-messaging social media app Instagram also started testing hiding like counts in this exact same way back in April in Canada, and there are signs it’s been successful so far. And since then, more countries such as Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland, and Italy have received this feature too. Users who are part of the test seem to like it as well.
Viewable like count has been a key Facebook feature since the beginning. However, users have increasingly complained that it can make them feel bad, as people can get worked up about worrying whether their posts get enough likes. People may not post things they fear won’t get likes, or they might delete posts that didn’t perform well. Removing the publically viewable like count might help to resolve some of that pressure.
Facebook is not planning to hide like and reaction counts on comments for now. But this might be because this feature is still in an early stage of development. Facebook will probably polish things eventually. Both Instagram and Facebook testing this feature out indicates that this feature might have positive impacts on sharing while aiding mental health or at least bring in more engagement.
This feature also may work as a double edge sword. Posts getting not as many likes as expected can make the departure of users from the platform faster. But if the results are anything like what we saw with Instagram, then we’re likely to see tests like these continue to expand.
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