Facebook will begin testing hiding like counts, starting in Australia on September 27th, according to TechCrunch. The test will hide the number of likes on a post, only displaying that a post was liked by “[a friend] and others,” instead of displaying the actual number to the public. The limited test is a gauge of whether the feature can improve users’ sense of well-being, and if the experiment is successful, the test may roll out to more regions.
“We are running a limited test where like, reaction, and video view counts are made private across Facebook. We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Facebook confirmed earlier this month that it was considering hiding like counts after mobile app researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered the hidden feature buried in the company’s Android app. According to her findings, people will still be able to tap to see the full list of people who liked and reacted to a post (and presumably you manually could count from there), but the like count will no longer be shown on the News Feed. Getting rid of the ability to see the exact number of likes at a glance is a small tweak that could go a long way toward curbing feelings of anxiety and depression linked with social media use.
Instagram began its test of hiding like counts earlier this year in Canada, and expanded the test to more regions when users reported that they actually liked the hidden counts. Of course, the point of these tests is to keep users happy enough to continue using Facebook and Instagram, so if the tests prove successful at keeping people posting and liking, the feature will likely roll out to more countries.