Facebook Considers Hiding ‘Likes’ to Protect Fragile Egos

Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook
Associated Press

Following Facebook’s removal of like counts on Instagram photos, the company is considering removing likes from posts on its main social media platform, to protect the feelings of its userbase.

TechCrunch reports that Facebook may soon begin hiding the like counter on posts on the sites News Feed. Instagram is testing this feature in seven countries including Canada and Brazil, showing just a few names of mutual friends who have liked certain posts rather than the entire like count on a photo. The idea behind hiding engagement levels is to stop users from comparing themselves to others and competing for likes on photos.

Hidden like counts on Facebook posts were first noticed by Jane Manchun Wong who discovered Facebook prototyping the feature in its Android app.

Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that it is considering the removal of like counts but the feature is not yet live for users. The company declined to share its results from the Instagram like hiding tests or the exact motive behind these tests. However, the testing of like removals on Facebook may indicate that the company liked the results of the Instagram tests.

Instagram began the like hiding test in Canada in April and added Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Ireland, and Japan to the test in July. The author of a post on Instagram can still see the like count on a post but users scrolling through the app’s newsfeed will not see the count. TechCrunch notes that the removal of like counts may actually be in an effort to benefit advertisers, stating:

Facebook has gradually been relegated to the place for sharing showy life events like marriages or new jobs while Instagram and Snapchat take over for day-to-day sharing. The problem is that people have so many fewer of those big moments, and the large Like counts they attract can make other users self-conscious of their of own lives and content. That’s all problematic for Facebook’s ad views. Facebook wants to avoid scenarios such as “Look how many Likes they get. My life is lame in comparison” or “why even share if it’s not going to get as many Likes as her post and people will think I’m unpopular”.

It appears likely that Facebook believes the removal of like counts could encourage users to share more freely and more often. Such a change could also help to hide Facebook’s decline in popularity as users switch to other social media apps, as posts on Facebook that receive fewer likes could encourage users to leave the platform.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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