CANBERRA, Australia: Facebook’s latest trial version hides the number of likes on user posts in Australia.
Friday onward, some of the country’s users will not be able to see the number of likes or reactions on another person’s Facebook post.
“People will still be able to see the number of likes on their own posts,” the social network said.
The company backs the controversial change by asserting, “Removing likes from view was an attempt to reduce social pressure among users.”
Sister social platform, Instagram, has tested a similar feature in several countries since July.
The company has not publicly revealed any data from this trial in seven countries: Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Italy and Ireland.
“[It is about] taking that number out of the equation, so that people can focus on the quality of their interactions and the quality of the content rather than on the number of likes or reactions,” Facebook Australia and New Zealand Director of Policy Mia Garlick explained.
She said the firm had consulted mental health experts and anti-bullying groups over the change.
Ellen K. Pao, an American investor and activist, remarked on the latest changes as ‘long overdue’.
Social platforms have known as early as 2014 that social media impacts mental health and only now is Facebook starting to hide like counts https://t.co/PFZokF5VwU via @wongmjane pic.twitter.com/KRgMFSh5lW
— Ellen K. Pao (@ekp) September 2, 2019
The change was also forecasted by tech experts earlier this month.
Hong Kong engineer, Jane Manchun Wong, recently blogged that she discovered inactivated prototype code in Facebook’s Android app which suggested that it was testing the setting.
Facebook had previously abstained from commenting over it.
The change has prompted backlash from some social media influencers who said ‘displaying likes’ is an important business metric for them.
The platforms have not yet commented whether these trials will result in permanent application of the ‘hiding reactions’ code.