Facebook is popular for its like button. That’s how we know people are in sync with our arguments or propositions. It’s how we know that people love our kids and that people are laughing at out jokes and communicated their feelings via different reactions-like, sad, wow, haha, and angry. Guess what! Facebook says it wants to hide these reactions. If there was an emoji, I could have clicked angry or sad.
Facebook, early in September announced that the app was working on a tool that would hide likes after a survey revealed that social media had a connection with mental health. I don’t doubt this in any way. It is obvious from the way many people will do anything for “likes”, and when events do not unfold the way they expect, it begins to affect their self-esteem.
Facebook said that rather than let users allow the reactions sway their emotions, it wants its users to focus more on connecting with people genuinely and not to measure their success or popularity on social platforms. “We want people to worry a little less about how many likes they are getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with people they care about,” its sister app, Instagram said at the time.
Facebook is now beginning to rethink this feature as part of a broader effort to make social network more enjoyable and less stressful to use. Last week, the company said it would begin a test to hide the number of likes, reactions and video views from posts in Australia. It said only the author would be able to view the metrics; other users won’t.
This test applies to posts and pages including Facebook ads. It will slowly roll out to the majority of Australian users before it reaches other countries.
“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,” a spokesperson from Facebook said in a statement.
In April, Instagram announced that it would begin its test of hiding like counts in Canada as a move to assuage the pressure on the platform. A higher number of likes is a clear indication of success or acceptability for many users. Instagram has since expanded this experiment to other countries including Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.
Renee Engeln, a psychology professor at North-western University told CNN that the reactions are powerful because they are immediate feedback. “In a way, likes give you the same kind of hit like a gambler gets at a slot machine.”
Instagram influencers who have built a business on Instagram have concerns with the test. If the platform decides to hide count likes, it would affect their business. A part of their engagement includes the number of likes that sponsored posts featuring an influencer can reach. This might not be a similar concern for Facebook because they view Instagram and YouTube as their channels.