In a bid to help protect users’ mental well-being
Facebook has announced it will follow in the footsteps of Instagram (which it owns) and start hiding likes on posts. From today, likes and number of views on a video will only be visible to the user. Comments will still remain public.
The social media platform has begun testing the new feature in Australia. In an interview with The Guardian, Facebook’s director of policy Mia Garlick said, “We’ve had really positive feedback from a lot of the anti-bullying groups and mental health organisations that we work with. It really is just taking that number out of the equation, so that people can focus on the quality of their interactions and the quality of the content rather than on the number of likes of reactions.”
It is not yet known whether the feature will be rolled out globally, with the company saying it depends on the success of the test. “We have had some initial positive feedback from the public about the experience [on Instagram], but we’re still just learning and listening to feedback at this stage,” says Garlick. It won’t, however, affect business customers who will still have access to all existing metrics. As for how (and if) it will affect the site’s ranking algorithm, is still unknown.
The move comes amid increasing concern in recent years over the effect of social media on mental well-being. The idea, Garlick says, is that by removing likes from public views it will encourage users to enjoy sharing on the platform without feeling like they’re in competition with anyone else.
According to Tech Crunch, a recent study determined that “20 per cent of the envy inducing moments users experienced in life were on Facebook, and that ‘intensity of passive following is likely to reduce users’ life satisfaction in the long-run, as it triggers upward social comparison and invidious emotions.’”