Facebook may soon start hiding like counts on News Feed posts to help improve the mental health of its users by protecting them from envy and dissuade them from self-censorship.
The company’s idea is to prevent users from destructively comparing themselves to their friends and possibly feeling worthless if their posts don’t get as many Likes. This could also stop users from deleting posts they think aren’t getting enough Likes or to the extent of not even not sharing on the platform.
Facebook previously tested a similar move on Instagram as a way to help break users’ fixation with getting likes on their pictures.
This is happening in 7 countries including Canada and Brazil, where Instagram is already testing this showing a post’s audience just a few names of mutual friends who’ve Liked it instead of the total number.
The discovery that Facebook is experimenting with the change in its Android app was done by data miner, Jane Manchun Wong on Monday.
Additionally, Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that it’s considering the test that would hide like counts, but that the test hasn’t started running yet.
If the change is executed, Facebook posts will no longer show the number of likes or reactions. The post creator will be able to see a list of people and their reactions, but a number won’t be displayed to the public or friends list. Instead of a specific number other users will just see a few reaction emoji and a note that it was liked by “[a friend] and others.”
Wong pointed out that likes and reactions on comments were still viewable with this feature turned on.
In August, Facebook said it began the test to “remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive” on Instagram, and it was “excited by the early test results.”
Killing the public-facing like count could fix some of the pressure for the popularity contests. Better yet this may lead to more posts on Facebook, and more time spent on the platform. And if more time on the platform is what the company wants then we’re likely to see tests like these continue to expand.
However, it’s unclear when the feature will be available on both platforms.