For the past decade, “likes” have been the chief currency of Facebook. It’s the way we’ve determined how many people think our babies are cute, believe our jokes are funny and recognize our new jobs are impressive. Facebook (FB) itself has been so synonymous with likes that the thumbs up icon for the like button was placed on the sign outside the company’s headquarters.
Now, Facebook is rethinking this feature as part of a broader effort to make the social network less stressful to use. On Thursday, the company said it will begin a test to hide the number of likes, reactions and video views from posts in Australia. The author of the post will still be able to see those metrics, but other users won’t. The test applies to posts from users and pages, as well as ads across Facebook. It will slowly roll out to the majority of Australian users. “We are running a limited test where like, reaction, and video view counts are made private across Facebook. We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
Earlier this month, the company said it was considering hiding like counts on the platform. In April, Facebook-owned Instagram announced it would begin testing hiding like counts in Canada, in a move to help reduce pressure on the platform. It has since expanded the experiment to several other countries, including Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.”We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” an Instagram spokesperson said earlier this year.Similarly to Instagram’s test, it will say “[name of user] and others” under the Facebook post where likes and reactions would normally appear. Users can then click to see a list of the other Facebook users who have liked it, although they won’t see a number saying how many .Facebook and Instagram may see different results from their respective tests.