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The Present

Facebook moving forward with hiding like counts to fight envy

This could become a standard feature one day.

Photo credit: Boudewijn Huysmans on Unsplash

Key Takeaways
  • Facebook has begun hiding ‘like counts’ in Australia.
  • Earlier this month, a reverse engineer predicted that this would be the case.
  • The new feature may help in reducing envy and other ill-fated social effects.

Somehow the concepts of ‘likes,’ that little counter of online social interactions, gained far too much importance in the complex web of people’s lives and psyches. The less fortunate among us tie their self worth to it. Large numbers of likes spike their self worth momentarily. It often leaves people envious of those with more likes and even causes depression in those with less likes.

It’s an absurd phenomenon when you get down to the root of it. It’s also unhealthy.

Which is why Facebook is officially rolling out its new feature to hide like counts on posts, with the first trial run occurring on September 27th in Australia. The post’s author will be able to still see the count internally, which is still an important metric for business pages, but the total overall count will be hidden from everyone. During the trial, public users will not be able to see how many people liked the post — or see who liked the post. This is to help combat ‘like-envy’ and mitigate herd-like behavior online.

Facebook hiding Likes

Facebook hiding like counts was originally spotted by reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong. It was predicted earlier this month that Facebook was going to begin publicly testing its hidden Like features sooner than later. The new tests will be running alongside Instagram’s pilot hidden Like count initiative as well, whereas Instagram began first testing it in Canada before expanding to six further countries in July.

A Facebook spokesperson recently told TechCrunch that, “We are running a limited test where like, reaction, and video view counts are made private across Facebook. We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences.”

If the test shows positive results and improves user’s sense of self worth, lack of envy and increased participation on the platform, this feature could spread around the world and even one day become a central feature of the application. So far now plans for that have been revealed or talked about.

The company’s similar test on Instagram is being led by a separate team.

The tests have proven successful in keeping users engaged and liking on Instagram and many users have reported liking the hidden counts feature.

Businesses and creators on instagram are still able to view the highly detailed metrics on their dashboards and they can still track the number of likes on their posted content.

Competition and envy online

Facebook hopes that without the looming Like counts, people will be more apt to interact with one another and care less about how their popularity is perceived by others. It also may assist in getting rid of herd mentality and letting people interact freely with content that interests them for what it is, not just for how many likes it has.

For those more competitive minded people, they’ll still be able to see the totals on their own posts, but they won’t be able to compare that with others. Although, that might help them out in the long run.

If Facebook goes through with removing Like counts everywhere and it eventually becomes the standard, it could help mitigate the negative effects that social media has on many people’s self esteem.


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