Facebook is currently considering the idea of getting rid of the like counter completely. The company says that the move will protect users from envy. The social media giant is already testing this idea on Instagram in seven countries. Instead of showing total likes, Instagram would simply give you names of just a few mutual friends who have liked the post and that’s it.
The idea behind this is actually very simple. Facebook wants to make it impossible for users to compare themselves with other people when it comes to likes. The company hopes that this will ensure that people don’t feel bad if their posts don’t get as many likes as they hoped. The idea may also help prevent users from deleting certain posts if they feel they aren’t getting enough likes.
It’s not clear what Facebook has learned from the Instagram tests yet. But it seems the company is getting ready to bring forward the idea on Facebook. The company didn’t reveal the timelines of this move. We don’t know when the like counter will stop appearing or whether Facebook will opt for a small test run before rolling out the update globally. Nonetheless, if Facebook decides to move forward with this, it is very likely that the company will opt for a small test first. This gives the company a chance to pull it back if it hurts user engagement or ad revenue on the platform.
Hiding the like counter may seem like a bad idea for most people. But Facebook doesn’t appear bothered by it. In fact, there is some evidence that perhaps the company sees this as the future of its platform. When the social media giant started to test out the feature, it started off with Canada alone. However, after a month, the test was expanded into seven other countries. This could be an indication that Facebook is seriously looking at this feature.
There’s no doubt that hiding the like counter could have positive implications on mental health. Facebook has already acknowledged that using the social media platform could actually pose mental health risks to some users. After all, most of its platforms like Instagram are used to share big life events including weddings, birthdays, new jobs etc. It’s very possible that someone may feel depressed or inadequate if they post photos of their wedding and fail to get any likes from friends.
The likes counter may also make people a little bit more self-conscious of what they post. For example, if for some reason you are not getting as many likes in your posts as you had hoped, you may start to wonder whether you are posting the right things or not. Facebook clearly understands this.
It seems like the company is ready to forego a little user engagement in favor of improving the mental health of its users. Some analysts are also arguing that getting rid of the likes counter may also help to obscure Facebook’s declining popularity as users move into other apps.