A new Facebook test removes “like” counts from News Feed posts in an effort to bring a bit of peace and tranquility to the minds of users. After code uncovered by high-profile app researcher Jane Manchun Wong suggested the network was considering the change earlier this month, Facebook began rolling out a like-count-free test to users in Australia on Thursday, September 26.
Facebook-owned Instagram is already hiding like counts for some users in a trial spanning seven countries, among them Canada, Australia, and Ireland. Discussing the idea a few months ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wants people to be “less interested in how many likes a post gets, and focus more on connecting with other people.”
In the test, users are able to see how many people have liked their own posts, but can’t see the number of likes other people’s posts have received. The hope is that this will help to reduce feelings of envy and inadequacy in people who are particularly sensitive to such data by eliminating the ability to compare likes. If the system works to reduce those negative feelings, there’s a chance that it could also stop users from fretting over the number of likes that their own posts receive, which in some cases can lead to the user deleting an entry.
The change could help encourage more open expression on the platform — or at least that is what Facebook is hoping. In some cases, users may only like a post just because the like count shows that everyone else did. Though users will be able to see their own like counts for self-validation (or lack thereof), there won’t be any numbers to compare them to, if the test becomes a permanent feature. Facebook says they are monitoring users reactions to the adjustment to determine whether to move forward with hiding those like counts.
There’s been a huge amount of research into how social media affects the mental health of those who use it, with many studies suggesting it can lead to feelings of anxiety, envy, and depression caused by the perception that others appear to be having a better time. But many users are also able to find plenty of positives with services like Facebook and Instagram, with people reporting closer connections and valuable support from friends, among other benefits.
Still, if you find social media leaves you feeling more crappy than happy, then how about eliminating the services from your daily life forever? Digital Trends has created handy guides showing you how to delete Facebook and Instagram (and Twitter and Snapchat, while we’re here), giving you more time to do other things that you enjoy.
Updated on September 27 to include the first test of the like-count-free design.
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