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Facebook tests hiding how many people like your posts

Posted at 9:24 AM, Oct 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 18:21:03-04

CLEVELAND — Facebook is considering hiding the number of "likes" people can see on their friends' posts.

The company recently rolled out a test of that new feature in Australia to see if it improves their experience and removes the pressure associated with posting on social media.

"I use it for both personal reasons as well as for business,” Andrea Anderson, a mom from Lakewood, said.

But she says there's one feature she could do without.

"Definitely all for getting rid of the like.”

It's an idea Facebook is testing out in Australia. The limited test hides likes, video views, and other reactions across the Facebook platform. Those counts will be private and only visible to the person who published the post. Then, after the experiment, the company will determine if it makes the user experience any better.

The company said in a statement that it wants the platform to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves, which means helping people focus on the quality of the photos and videos they share rather than the amount of likes or reactions those posts get.

"I think they know that psychologically, like, you get kind of get that hit. But on the other hand, it also can contribute to anxiety and just depression and you know, just mental health wise, it's not the best,” Anderson said.

Anderson says she doesn't let her four children use the platform for that reason.

And Dr. Ethan Benore, the Head of Pediatric Behavioral Health at the Cleveland Clinic, says it's something other parents should think about because some children are not able to self-regulate their emotions.

"Many of them feel insecure, and are highly focused on being accepted by their peers. And so a focus on a like, can be a strong motivator for any number of behaviors, those that are healthy and unhealthy for children,” Benore said.

But even though getting rid of the like function may be beneficial for some, others like Brittney Moffatt are on the fence.

"I use Facebook a lot, pretty much every day, all day, before I came here, I was probably on Facebook,” Moffatt said.

"I offer services to small businesses where I help them with their social media or help them with their content writing.

For her, a like means someone is enjoying the content she or her clients post and she's interested to see how removing the ability for others to see the numbers on her posts affects her business.

"If no one's seen the likes, like how does that change, if my content's going to be seen, if my content's going to be more engaged or less engaged?” Moffatt said.

As for Anderson, who also runs her own small business as a wellness coach, she says other methods of engagement are just as good.

"My goal is to get people to comment and like start a conversation that way. And I think Facebook likes it too.”

Facebook says it hopes to learn from the test over time and will then decide on a broader roll out.