Facebook is toying with ditching publicly viewable ‘like’ counts, perhaps spelling the beginning of the end for numerals that have both stressed and intoxicated users since they were added to the platform a decade ago.
The social media giant said it began a test in Australia on Thursday that masks like and video view tallies across the website. During the trial, users can still see how many likes their posts and pictures received, but other people cannot.
Facebook spokesperson Jimmy Raimo said it is a “limited” rollout that covers the majority of the country.
“We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences,” Raimo told the Daily News in an email.
In the spring, Instagram began tests on hiding its like totals in Canada. And the photo-centric app, which is owned by Facebook, said in July it was expanding the experiment to other countries including Italy, Japan, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.
“We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” Instagram said at the time.
Like counts have long been the currency of the land on both social media apps — a way to measure the success of a post or picture and an oft-anxiety-provoking form of social capital.
A 2017 report by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK pointed to Instagram as the most toxic social media app for young people. Snapchat ranked in as the second worst and Facebook came in third, according to ratings by about 1,500 people ages 14-24.