Facebook could soon start hiding the Like counter on News Feed posts to protect users’ from envy and dissuade them from self-censorship, TechCrunch reports.
Instagram is already testing this in 7 countries including Canada and Brazil, showing a post’s audience just a few names of mutual friends who’ve Liked it instead of the total number. The idea is to prevent users from destructively comparing themselves to others and possibly feeling inadequate if their posts don’t get as many Likes.
It could also stop users from deleting posts they think aren’t getting enough Likes or not sharing in the first place.
Reverse engineering master Jane Manchun Wong spotted Facebook prototyping the hidden Like counts in its Android app. When asked, 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. If it does decide to go ahead with a test, Facebook would likely do so gradually and pull back if it significantly hurts usage or ad revenue.
Still, the prototype might indicate positive results from hiding Like tallies in Instagram, which we first reported in April after it was spotted by Wong there as well. After beginning testing in Canada later that month. Instagram added Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Ireland, and Japan to the test in July. There, a post’s author can still see the Like total, but everyone else can’t. The expansion of that Instagram test and Facebook potentially trying it in its own app signals that it might have positive or negligible impacts on sharing while aiding mental health, or at least be worth a slight drop in engagement.