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“What was a popularity contest becomes an opening for meaningful engagement,” Facebook removes likes



News | Tech

By Loren Webb

Facebook users will no longer be able to see the number of likes, reactions and video views on other’s posts in a world-first trial.

Similar to Instagram’s test that was rolled out in July this year, where the platform removed likes, Facebook is following suit. All likes on posts will now be private and only visible to the post’s author.

Facebook Australia’s Director of Policy Mia Garlick said the change was based on wellbeing research and feedback from mental health professionals that like counts can cause social comparison.

“It really is just 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,” Ms Garlick commented.

Ms Garlick assured businesses who rely on Facebook that they will still receive all the same metrics and insights they previously accessed.

Currently, there is no date specified when the trial will end or if the change will be made permanent. Also at this stage it is unknown as to whether this will be rolled out to other countries.

“We have had some initial positive feedback from the public about the experience (on Instagram), but we’re still just learning and listening to feedback at this stage,” she said.

Heather Cook, General Manager APAC, Hootsuite said,  “It’s no surprise to see that Facebook is following Instagram’s lead and hiding likes on social media. And while there will be early opposition to the move, social media content and interactions will be better for removing them.  

“While likes are seen as the bread and butter measures of success for businesses on social, they’re just vanity metrics with little commercial value. Many industry leaders are now moving towards a for-purpose approach to business, realising commercial gains in raising the profile of corporate social responsibility initiatives through social media.  And while companies may continue to crave those little thumbs or love hearts for a little while longer, the value of a more meaningful approach to social media engagements will soon be clear.

Heather Cook, General Manager APAC, Hootsuite

“A like is a reactionary, almost ephemeral, process and doesn’t encourage significant business interaction. Rather than encourage discussion or sharing, the like model has instead encouraged provocation and antagonism.

“By removing likes, how we engage with posts begins to change. The substance of an update moves front and centre. And what was a popularity contest becomes an opening for meaningful engagement.” 

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