Facebook might soon remove one of its most appreciated features – the “like count.” While some (including, possibly Facebook) think that the feature causes insecurity and promotes the fear of missing out amongst users, others simply love accumulating the revered thumbs-up.
Facebook previously tested the removal of Like counts on Instagram and has now confirmed that it’s also doing so for its own platform.
The latest change in the Facebook Android app was spotted by researcher Jane Machun Wong, who was also the first to report the removal of likes on Instagram. TechCrunch later reached out to Facebook and the company confirmed the development. This update could work just like on Instagram, where only the person who posts can see the number of likes, while everyone else can’t. However, there’s no rollout timeline in place just yet.
Facebook is working to hide like counts, too!https://t.co/WnUrM12aZg
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) September 2, 2019
Two sides of the coin
While the number of likes a post gets is integral to its engagement numbers, the feature could be detrimental to users’ mental health and wellbeing. If a post does not get enough likes, it could hinder users from sharing it further and eventually discourage them from posting at all.
Facebook first started experimenting with the removal of like counts on Instagram back in April. Instagram users in Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Japan, and Ireland cannot see the number of likes on an Instagram post, even though the user who shared the post can. Facebook never really revealed concrete reasons for removing like counts from Instagram, but the company says it wants users to focus on sharing rather than worrying about how many likes a post gets.
The platform has been actively adding features to promote digital wellbeing across its products since last year’s Cambridge Analytica fiasco. The company has previously added features to both Instagram and Facebook allowing users to better manage the time they spend on the social media platforms, in addition to micro-managing their notifications.
On the other hand, Facebook’s user base has seen a gradual decline, with an increasing number of users flocking to Instagram for daily posting instead. It’s possible Facebook wants to do away with displaying likes so users are encouraged to share posts that are unlikely to be popular. The company might not want to drive away existing users who could be on the fence because of waning interest in the content.