Facebook is testing hiding how many “likes” a post gets on its platform, a move some experts say will help alleviate social media-related anxiety, while others argue it will ruin the influencer industry.
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“We are running a limited test where like, reaction and video view counts are made private across Facebook,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences.”
The like counts will be private and only visible to the author of the post. The company hopes the move will help users focus on the quality of the photos of videos they share rather than just focus on how many others like it.
Facebook tested removing the like count Thursday in Australia, and it could soon expand elsewhere depending on how it is received and how people engage with it.
The move is similar to what Facebook-owned Instagram tested earlier this year as a way to combat cyber bullying.
While the move was lauded by many as a way to prevent social-media related anxieties, it sent some members of the “influencer” community who rely on likes and followers to earn money, reeling.
“Many influencers didn’t actually think that Instagram was going to move forward with completely removing likes from the platform,” Ronn Torossian, a crisis management expert and the CEO of the 5W Public Relations firm in New York told ABC News in a statement Friday.
Torossian argued that removing likes is not necessarily about reducing pressure users feel on the platform, but more about getting ad revenue.
“Now that they have made it clear that this initiative is going to continue, some influencers are panicking and looking to new ways to bring in revenue. The reality is, Instagram is removing likes not only to reduce the pressure users feel, but to force users to spend money on ads if they want their posts to be seen,” he said. “Organic content is no longer going to cut it – if these influencers want to continue to grow their audience, paid ads are about to be the best way to do so.”
One influencer, however, argued that removing likes on the platform could be a positive step — especially for young women — even though she acknowledges that she has used the platform to advance her career.
Alexa Galante, known on Instagram as XO Bunny, told “Good Morning America” earlier this month that she thinks removing likes is “a great idea to reduce cyber-bullying.”
“Removing Instagram likes would allow users to focus on content and not be concerned with the amount of likes the photo gets,” Galante added. “Girls are very competitive in general, so if a girl has more likes than me on a pic with a similar following, I will definitely try and outdo her on the next post.”