Facebook and Instagram are now giving all their users the option to hide “likes” on their posts that are made public, potentially upending a core dynamic of the social media platforms in which like counts are seen as a sign of a person’s influence.
Since late 2019, the social media giant has been testing a feature for its users to hide the counts of likes on their posts, this is a feature that is highly synonymous with Facebook in an attempt to make Facebook and Instagram look more tolerable.
As of Wednesday, each of their users can choose whether or not others can see the number of likes on his or her own post, as well as the number of likes on the post of other users, Facebook (FB) announced in a blog post-Wednesday.
Users would now have a bit more control over when they see “Like” counts of others, but the new features do not represent a huge change in how these social networks really work. Instead, Facebook and Instagram are pushing the decision of how their “Likes” are handled by users themselves, which simply shows another example of how Facebook happens to shift the responsibility of its platforms’ worst impulses and the impact of their actions onto users while making the promises of more “choice.”
If any user decides to publicly opt-out of sharing their post’s like counts, their viewers would see a list of who liked the post but not the total number of likes in the post. Even if the photo is not publicly displayed, the person who posted it would still be able to see the number of likes that are in the post.
The company stated that the feature will allow users to “focus on the photos and videos they share, rather than the number of likes they receive.”
Additionally, Facebook and Instagram users can opt-out of seeing how many people liked other people’s posts as they scroll through their feeds — a feature that can be enabled by visiting the “new posts” section of settings.
According to some users who previously had the option to test hiding likes on Instagram, the option could help improve the platform’s overall wellbeing. For social media influencers who have developed their businesses on the applications, however, demonstrating their own like counts and comparing them to those of other users’ posts can be very essential for securing very lucrative brand partnerships.
Facebook stated in a blog post that it is funding “external research into people’s Instagram experiences and how we can improve our policies and products to better support our community,” and that it is accepting proposals for such studies from academics and non-profit organizations.