Facebook Considering Hiding Likes On Posts After Instagram Test
Your mum's favourite social media platform is tossing up the idea of following Instagram's lead and hiding the number of 'likes' on posts.
After some reverse-engineering, app researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered Facebook is testing out the feature on its Android app.
"I observed that Facebook has recently begun prototyping this hidden like/reaction count feature in their Android app," Wong said in a blog post on Monday.
"Currently, with this unreleased feature, the like/reaction count is hidden from anyone other than the creator of the post, just like how it works on Instagram. The list of people who liked/reacted will still be accessible, but the amount will be hidden."
Following the discovery, Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch the company is indeed considering testing the removal of public-facing like counts, but that the feature is not yet live for users.
Wong found similar code in Instagram -- which Facebook owns -- just weeks before the platform started testing hidden like counts earlier this year. Australia was among the countries selected for the test, which has been met with mixed reviews from the platform's community.
Instagram users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand can still see how many people hit the little love heart below their own posts, but not on other accounts.
According to Instagram, the decision is aimed at "removing pressure" from the digital platform's users.
"We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves," Mia Garlick, Director of Policy, Facebook Australia & NZ Zealand said in July.
"We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love."
The degree to which social media giants are making moves in the name of mental health, however, is largely debated.
"Facebook wouldn’t be doing it unless it benefited the company," social media expert Dr Belinda Barnet, from Swinburne University, told 10 daily.
"I think it’s because they’d like more people to sign up to business pages. You can still see likes on business pages, and you can also buy advertising. In effect, it is making the 'like' economy a premium product only businesses and advertisers can see."
It is unclear when the feature will be available across both Facebook and Instagram, and no official findings from the Instagram tests have yet been released.