Facebook is testing a new feature and may soon begin hiding like counts on all posts on Facebook. The company has not commented on the discovered new features, but the source – Jane Wong – is trusted for being exemplary at reverse engineering applications.
Following Instagram’s Steps
One of the basic principles behind showing like counts is that when people see just how much a post resonates with others, they are more likely to like it themselves. This is especially true for very popular posts on the news feed and in groups.
For the most part, that principle has worked out well, and nobody is really sure why Facebook has suddenly decided to start testing the feature.
What we do know is that Facebook has been testing the feature on Instagram for a while now. The new discovery by Ms. Wong seems to indicate that the Instagram test (which was also discovered by Ms. Wong) had been successful, and Facebook seems keen to capitalize on it.
Granted, the motivation behind the Instagram feature was thought to be because it infamously ranks as the second-worst social media platform for mental health, behind Snapchat.
A Bid to Stop Self-Censorship?
A plausible theory that has circulated online spheres is that introducing the feature is meant as a deterrent for self-censorship more than anything. The idea behind this reasoning is that people tend to compare themselves with other people’s posts.
When they see something with more likes than what they imagine their own will get, they feel inadequate and end up not posting anything altogether because it won’t gain as much traction.
Additionally, people won’t delete posts they feel have not gained enough likes and post more freely. The point, then, is that people will interact with the platform more.
Just in it For the Profit
Another theory that makes enough sense is that the results from their ongoing test with Instagram shows more engagement on the platform when like counts are hidden.
Either that or it hurts ad revenue so little that it’s negligible. The idea that it even increases ad revenue isn’t too far gone either. Facebook declined to comment on the development, so we can only guess.
Again, the point of the change might just be to keep people more tightly locked into the platform than before. It might not be driven by some sort of moral compass that Facebook has developed under pressure by investors, users, regulators and advertisers.
Reversing Facebook’s Decline
Facebook currently has about 2.4 billion active users every month, but the userbase has been shrinking amid privacy scandals and younger people preferring different platforms.
Hiding like counts from others might put users unless pressure to post pictures for the attention, and thus make new posts more often, perhaps simply because they want to post something. This newfound sense of freedom might serve to slow down Facebook’s decline in popularity or even reverse the course of their fortune.