Facebook is said to be looking at the idea of hiding 'like counts' on people’s posts, in order to prevent user’s popularity being measured solely on the number of likes or followers they have.
The site is reportedly testing hiding likes on some Instagram accounts as well as Facebook accounts. Researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered Facebook's effort to hide like counts in its Android app. Facebook later confirmed the tests to TechCrunch but declined to share public results from the Instagram tests or any schedule for further testing on Facebook.
The change isn’t as restrictive as one might first imagine. Users will still be able to see the number of likes their posts receive, but other viewers will only see a few names or faces, followed by “and others”. The company is reportedly testing the change in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand.
Facebook said it’s doing this in order to help reduce anxiety for some of its less popular users, who often compare themselves to others on the site. The idea is to reduce the pressure on people to create popular posts, it said.
Facebook isn’t the only company looking to tone down the online popularity contest. For example, Google-owned YouTube will soon begin abbreviating its public-facing subscriber count for those with more than 1,000 subscribers. So for example, if a channel has 111,018 subscribers, it will instead be reported as 111K, until it reaches 112K subscribers. Account owners will be able to see their exact number of subscribers in YouTube Studio and YouTube Analytics.
YouTube revealed the change was coming last May. It said the change was designed to reduce stress surrounding the public tracking of subscriber counts in real time. “We hope this helps all creators focus on telling their story, and experience less pressure about the numbers,” YouTube said.