Facebook may be planning to hide the number of likes. Previously, Facebook-owned photo and video sharing social network Instagram started hiding likes count for users in select countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. Now, Facebook has reportedly confirmed that it is considering a test whether it should start hiding likes count. App researcher Jane Munchon Wong spotted code that makes Facebook stop showing the number of likes on public posts. Wong spotted code inside Facebook's Android app. As per screenshots shared by Wong, the number of likes on a post will remain hidden for everyone but the original poster.
After Wong's discovery, a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch that they haven't started running the test yet. However, Facebook said that they are considering a test that would determine its decision whether to hide the number of likes on posts or not. For now, Facebook seems to be prototyping its decision to protect the likes count only in its Android app. As of this publication, we are seeking more information about whether Facebook would consider running a similar test on its iOS app or not. What's more, Facebook did not disclose the results from the prior likes count hiding test on Instagram. More details are awaited in terms of Facebook's motive or timeline behind likes count hiding tests.
Meanwhile, Wong said that she reverse-engineered the app to figure out that Facebook has only recently started testing this change in its Android app. However, this applies to both the number of likes as well as reactions. Similar to Instagram, Facebook's unreleased feature would keep the like/reaction count hidden from everyone except the creator of the post. However, the list that shows liked or reacted to the list would remain visible, unlike the exact number of likes count. However, this won't hide the number of comments on a post.
"By hiding the like/reaction counts from anyone other than the post creator, users might feel less anxious about the perceived popularity of their content. Studies have shown that social media use may influence mental health, including leading to depression and anxiety," said Wong in her blog post.