Stories of suicides and depression caused by social media experiences have been on the rise of late with stakeholders working to find ways to curb this new phenomenon. Facebook launched its hidden likes count test on September 27 in Australia.
The hidden likes count will not reveal how many people have reacted to one’s Facebook post as in the old days. A post’s author can still see the count, but it’s hidden from everyone else who will only be able to see who but not how many people gave a thumbs-up or other reactions.
This test is similar to the one that ran on Instagram and was run in seven countries. This test by Facebook is meant to emphasize the quality of content that users share and take away the emphasis from a popularity metric which can be associated with depression, anxiety and suicide among teens all over the world.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri earlier this year mentioned that taking away likes on the platform would help to create “a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”
The number of likes and reactions (such as hearts and other emojis) on posts and photos, as well as video view counts, will be hidden to the public under the test.
Battling for likes and comparing your numbers to others has transformed social media into a sort of popularity contest, which many say is taking a toll on the mental health of users – particularly social-media-savvy teens.
Without a big number on friends’ posts that could make users feel insignificant, or a low number on their own posts announcing their poor reception, users might feel more carefree on Facebook.
The removal could also reduce herd mentality, encouraging users to decide for themselves if they enjoyed a post rather than just blindly clicking to concur with everyone else.