Like it or not, Facebook is hiding more and more likes

By Melissa Locker

Facebook is a popularity contest. If you post a photo of your dog and no one likes it, it stings. Is there something wrong with your dog? Or because that’s not possible, is there something wrong with you? Not getting likes on a post can lead to a shame spiral that could lead you to the bottom of a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on your journey of self-reflection and self-discovery, potentially resulting in, *gasp* deleting Facebook.

That’s why the social media site is testing something—hiding likes, so no one gets their feelings hurt. The change could also cut down on the number of incendiary, inflammatory, and obnoxious posts calibrated to go viral.

On Thursday, the social network announced it had started testing like hiding in Australia. Now no matter what adorable dog photo you post, likes, video view counts, and other measurements of interaction with the post will be hidden from other users, eliminating the popularity contest aspect from the site. The program came to Australia after limited, private testing.

“[It is about] 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 or reactions,” spokeswoman Mia Garlick told the Australian Associated Press.

The test reportedly comes after the company consulted mental health experts and anti-bullying groups. Additionally, as the 2020 election looms, Facebook could also be testing the program in the hopes of slowing the spread of disinformation.

While this is the first time the company has announced plans to hide the numbers on its core social platform, Facebook did test a similar program on Instagram in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. Instagram’s Adam Mosseri told BuzzFeed News in April that by removing likes, the company was hoping to create “a less pressurized environment” and an in-app message on the app itself mirrored that, saying, “We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get.”

Twitter has hinted at its own redesign that would make it harder to see retweet counts. It has rolled out a feature that lets users hide replies to tweets from prying eyes.


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