Facebook is considering hiding “likes” on its posts amid concerns the feature turns the website into a popularity contest.
The like button has been a central part of Facebook since it was added to the social network in 2009 but growing worries about social media’s impact on mental health is now causing the company to rethink how it works.
Facebook would not remove the button, but hide how many likes other people’s posts have received, according to code spotted within the app. Users would still be able to see how many times their own posts have been liked.
The company confirmed it was considering a test that would remove like counts from posts, but did not say when it would start.
It comes after Instagram, the photo sharing app owned by Facebook, began hiding like counts for some users. The app removed the feature for some Canadian users in May and extended the test to a handful of other countries in July.
Instagram has said it wants to remove the “pressure” of how many likes a post receives, and Adam Mosseri, its chief executive, has suggested he would like to make the change permanent.
Although versions of the like button appeared in earlier websites, Facebook is credited with making the feature of social media and apps like Twitter, Reddit and TikTok have all followed. The blue and white thumbs up that represents a Facebook like has become a fixture of the company’s branding, featuring on the entrance sign to the company’s headquarters.
However, early Facebook employees have expressed regret at building the feature, saying they encourage unhealthy behaviour.
Psychologists have suggested that the like button creates habitual use of social networks, and some social media users have said that they refrain from posting if they think their status updates will not receive enough likes.
In 2016, Facebook offered users the chance to respond to posts using a range of “reactions” as well as the like button, to represent sadness, anger or surprise.
The code revealing the potential change was discovered by Jane Manchun Wong, a tech researcher who unveils unreleased features within apps and websites.
Culled from telegraph.co.uk