Facebook is considering removing the Like Counter on posts to protect users’ mental health. But – before you chuck The Zuck in with Gandhi and Mandela – there’s more to this story than meets the News Feed.
First: context. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, started “hiding the likes” in multiple countries (including Australia) in July this year. This was met with much public acclaim, much publicity, and a couple of crying influencers.
So far so 2019.
Now, as TechCrunch this morning reported, Facebook is considering doing the same, supposedly, “to protect users’ from envy and dissuade them from self-censorship.”
How does this work? Well, like Instagram, when you post a photo or status update to the News Feed Facebook will only show a few names of mutual friends who’ve Liked it instead of the total number (although the owner of the post will still be able to see exactly who liked it, by clicking into it).
The problem is, this move may not be as altruistic as it seems – as Facebook has “gradually been relegated to a place for sharing showy life events like marriages or new jobs while Instagram and Snapchat take over for day-to-day sharing” (TechCrunch) this move may actually just be an attempt to obscure Facebook’s decline in popularity, and slow the exodus to other apps.
Also, as TechCrunch reports, “If it does decide to go ahead with a test, Facebook would likely do so gradually and pull back if it significantly hurts usage or ad revenue.”
This and the various other scandals (Cambridge Analytica, anyone) in mind, Zuckerburg still has a long way to go before reaching Gandhi status…