It’s not very often that a massive change comes about on a massive platform like Facebook. Since its very first days, the ‘Like’ button has been a staple of the social media platform, but could this soon change? Facebook has started limited tests, beginning in Australia, removing the ‘Like’ button from Facebook posts to see how customer behaviour changes.
Of course, this is done under the guise of improving user experience, but this comes amidst platforms like Facebook facing massive criticism for being addictive and forcing people to keep staring at their screens. Multiple studies have shown our brains get a massive endorphin hit when we see notifications of our posts being likes, pictures being shared or videos being watched. This is, in part at least, what makes us come back so many times a day to social media.
However, companies like Facebook want to be more “responsible” and build a product that impedes as little on its users’ lives as possible while still being able to pull in all that ad revenue.
The way the test is currently implemented, like, reaction, and video view counts aren’t completely gone, they’re just private to everyone except the post’s author. Other users can still see who liked or reacted to a post, so I guess they’ll be able to count them manually, but it certainly puts less emphasis on the sheer number of how many people pressed the like button under a post. Comment counts will still be displayed, though.
A Facebook representative said that this test is “limited,” with the purpose of gathering feedback “to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences.”
This also comes after Instagram, a Facebook company, started testing something similar in Canada and Australia back in April saying “we want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”
How far this will go toward addressing the mental health issues connected with social media is of course, unknown, but perhaps a step in the right direction.