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Does Facebook Want To Hide Likes Too?

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Facebook might start testing whether it should begin hiding public-facing ‘likes’. The company tested a similar feature on Instagram in August. This will help to break the importance users place on getting likes on their pictures and essentially improve users’ mental health.


App researcher and data miner Jane Manchun Wong found code inside Facebook’s Android app that hides the exact amount of likes on a post from everyone but the original poster. If implemented, Facebook will only show other users a few reaction emoji. Other users will also see a note that it was liked by [a friend] and other people, without stating how many people liked the post.


Wong wrote about her discovery in a blog post. She also emphasised that she does not work for the tech giant.


She said:

“It takes time to develop, observe, research and release experimental features like this. Experimental features could come and go. But I am certain hiding the public like counts will be beneficial to the digital wellbeing of a large chunk of users.”



Photo: iStock


The test would make enough sense. It’s been known from a few years back that social media impacts mental health. Instagram started testing hiding like counts earlier this year. There are signs that this move has been successful so far since Facebook expanded the feature to more countries.


The like has been a key Facebook feature for a decade. However, users have increasingly complained that it can make them feel bad. Many people get caught up worrying about whether their posts get enough likes. People may not post things they fear won’t get likes, or they may delete things that didn’t perform well. Removing the public-facing like count could resolve some of that pressure. It will also help users focus on sharing the things they love.


If that leads to more posts on Facebook, and more time spent on Facebook, then we’re likely to see tests like these continue to expand.


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