The world’s largest social networking platform Facebook began testing the cloaking of likes on September 27 starting in Australia, so the test hides the number of likes on the post, and only shows that the post was liked by a friend and others, rather than showing the actual number to the public.
The author of the post will still be able to see these metrics, but other users will not be able to do so, and the test applies to user posts and pages, as well as Facebook ads.
Limited testing is a measure of whether a feature can improve users’ feelings, and if successful, the test may spread to more areas.
This test comes after likes – over the past decade – have shaped Facebook’s main identity, so that if others’ posts get a lot of likes, you’re jealous, and if your post doesn’t get enough, you’re embarrassed.
A Facebook spokesman said : “We are testing so limited that we make the number of likes, reactions and video views especially on Facebook, and we will gather feedback and comments to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences.”
Earlier this month, Facebook confirmed that it was considering hiding the number of likes after a mobile app researcher, Jane Manchun Wong, discovered the hidden feature buried in the company’s Android app.
Depending on the researcher’s findings, people will still be able to click to see the full list of people who liked a post, but without showing the likes in the news feed.
Getting rid of the ability to quickly see the exact number of likes is a small improvement that can help curb the anxiety and depression associated with using social media platforms.
Facebook’s Instagram platform began testing a number of likes in April this year in Canada, in a move to help reduce pressure on the platform.
Instagram later expanded the test to include more regions, such as Ireland; New Zealand; and Australia, when users reported that they actually prefer to hide the number of likes.
These tests are intended to make users happy enough to continue using Facebook and Instagram, so if the tests prove successful in keeping people posting and liking posts, the feature is likely to be deployed in more countries.