As rumors suggested, Facebook is getting ready to start hiding "Likes" on its own site. The company has now officially started a test that will remove public visibility of Like, reaction and video view counts from people's posts and ads across Facebook. This is going to be happening only in Australia, though, and Facebook told Engadget it has not decided whether the test will expand to other places in the future. Facebook said it wants to get some initial results from Australia, before eventually deciding which steps to take next.
If you're a Facebook user in Australia, this means that while your friends and family will still be able to like and add emoji reactions to your posts, they won't be able to see how many others interacted with it. The same goes if you want to see how many people liked a post from someone you know; that information on counts will now only be visible to the author of a post, who can still see the number of Likes or reactions their posts are getting, it just won't be public. "We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people's experiences," a Facebook spokesperson said.
Facebook's move to hide Like counts follows a similar test it started running on Instagram earlier this year, which was originally limited to Canada but has since expanded to more countries, including Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. That said, the company expects to see contrasting data and learn something new from its test on Facebook, since it considers its core platform and Instagram to have vastly different audiences.
Like Facebook has said before, it wants its apps to be a place where people can comfortably express themselves and focus on the quality of photos and videos they're sharing, rather than the amount of Likes or reactions they get on a regular basis. With its latest test, the company's now hoping it help it create a healthier atmosphere all around, on its site and Instagram -- although it does present a problem for social media influencers, many of whom have built business models based entirely around Likes and the clout that comes with them.