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As she has done with so many other unreleased app features, it was prolific researcher Jane Manchun Wong who discovered Facebook was testing hidden Like counts in its Android app. It’s not yet available to users, but the company confirmed to TechCrunch that it is considering hiding its most well-known method of publicly approving posts.
Back in April, Wong, who also discovered that Facebook could be bringing back its Chat tool, found that Instagram was testing hiding its Like count from audiences. While the person who posted an image would know how many Likes it receives, everyone else would only see a couple of names/faces followed by “and others,” rather than exact numbers. The change is being tested in Canada, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Ireland, and Japan.
In the Facebook test, each type of user reaction to a post is shown, but, like Instagram, only the creator will see exactly how many and who reacted.
With Facebook confirming it may hide Likes in the main app, it appears the Instagram tests show the positive aspects of such a change outweigh any potential negatives.
With many social media users, especially younger people, feeling pressurized to come up with popular posts, removing the Like count could be beneficial when it comes to protecting people’s mental health. It should also help reduce users’ anxiety—no more comparing themselves to those who always receive hundreds of Likes. With more people abandoning Facebook for other apps, could the move encourage casual users to post more content, or drive away long-term fans of the platform?