Facebook is considering hiding Likes on its posts amid concerns the feature turns the website into a popularity contest.
According to a new report from TechCrunch, The change was first noted by reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong, who discovered the new behavior in the code of Facebook’s Android app. Instead of seeing the full Like count on a specific post, Facebook users caught up in the company’s test will simply see the names of a handful of friends who clicked the Like button.
If implemented, Facebook posts will no longer show the number of likes or reactions to a post. The user who created the post can see a list of people and their reactions, but a number won’t be displayed. Wong pointed out that likes and reactions on comments were still viewable with this feature turned on.
According to Wong:
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.
Interestingly, likes/reaction counts on comments are not yet hidden for now. But this could be due to the nature of this feature being in an early stage of development. As always, things will be polished eventually.
The like button has been a central part of Facebook since it was added to the social network in 2009 but growing worries about social media’s impact on mental health is now causing the company to rethink how it works.
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.
In August, Facebook said it began the test to “remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive” on Instagram, and it was “excited by the early test results.”