Earlier this year, Instagram began hiding likes and video views in an attempt to reduce the “pressure” on users and shift the focus to “sharing the things they enjoy—that experiment is currently only visible to some accounts in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.
Now it appears the social network is looking into the possibility of doing the same on its main Facebook platform, after an app researcher uncovered code indicating such a change is in the works. Facebook may soon start hiding the number of likes and reactions on posts featured in user’s News Feeds, according to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who found prototype code in Facebook’s Android app.
“I observed that Facebook has recently begun prototyping this hidden like/reaction count feature in their Android app by reverse-engineering the app and playing with the code underneath,” Jane Manchun Wong wrote in a blog post.
Facebook’s interest in removing like counts is likely similar to what Instagram previously said was an effort to have “your followers focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.” With Instagram’s testing, users can still see the like counts for their own posts but won’t see them for posts from others. It’s unclear if what Facebook is likely going to test will work exactly the same. And Facebook prepping this test could be a signal that the removal of like counts for some Instagram users in Canada, Italy, Australia, and more have been positive.
According to TechCrunch, the company confirmed that it’s considering testing removal of Like counts. However it’s not live for users yet. Facebook declined to share results from the Instagram Like hiding tests, its exact motives, or any schedule for starting testing. “We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get,” Instagram says in a notification it serves to anyone who is part of the experiment. “During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets, “said Mia Garlick, director of public policy for Facebook and Instagram.
However, the “likes” has been a key Facebook feature for a decade, users have increasingly complained that it can make them feel bad, as 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.
The move by Facebook is to avoid scenarios such as “Look how many Likes they get. My life is lame in comparison” or “why even share if it’s not going to get as many Likes as her post and people will think I’m unpopular”—While hiding reaction counts may help your mood, but the lack of quantified validation may cause people to post less content – and that’s not good for Facebook‘s business.