Facebook Tests Hiding Likes

At least among a small subset of users, Facebook will reportedly begin hiding “Like” counts on Friday.

That’s according to TechCrunch, which reports Facebook is using Australia to test this significant change.

Giving away the surprise, researcher Jane Manchun Wong first broke news earlier this month that Facebook was testing like-hiding on its flagship platform.

Facebook then confirmed to TechCrunch that it was testing such a feature among a small number of users.

How far Facebook plans to go with its test remains an open question. The company did not return a request for comment on Thursday.

In July, Instagram expanded a like-hiding test to additional regions of the globe. In addition to Canada, the Facebook unit began hiding like counts among select users in Australia, Brazil, Japan, Ireland, Italy and New Zealand.

In those tests on Instagram, users can still view their likes by tapping on the “liker list,” but their friends can't see how many likes their posts have received.

Facebook’s rationale for reducing the prominence of popularity meters is certain to generate much debate.

Is the tech giant concerned with the negative side effects of such tracking? Or, as Wong suspected earlier this month, is its decision based on findings that people are posting less out of fear of low “like” counts?

“The side effects of these mental-health burdens will make people less likely to post their personal content, making the platform less active,” Wong tweeted.

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