What you need to know

  • Facebook is now testing a feature in Australia where it hides the total number of likes.
  • Only the author of the post will see the total number of likes, but everyone will still be able to see the most common reaction types and the number of comments.
  • This is similar to a test Instagram tried earlier this year.

Starting September 27, Facebook has begun experimenting with a new feature in Australia that hides the like count on posts. The post author will still be able to see the total number of likes, but it will be hidden from anyone else who views the post.

Even with the total number hidden, Facebook will still show the most common reactions as well as who reacted. Meaning, you could count up the users yourself, if you were so inclined. Despite hiding the total number of likes, Facebook will not be hiding the number of comments on a post. So, you'll still be able to measure the engagement of posts based on that.

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This comes at a time when social media companies are all trying to find ways to balance social wellbeing with user engagement. With this test, Facebook is hoping to put a stop to users competing for likes and how it feels when everyone can see just how few people liked your content.

The Facebook-owned Instagram began a similar test earlier this year in May starting in Canada. It later expanded to six more countries in July, including Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand.

Data is just now starting to come back from these tests, but Facebook says a separate test is needed for the Facebook app because the two services are so different. If the Facebook test is successful in Australia, we could see it roll out to more countries in the future.

Facebook and Instagram aren't the only social media networks experimenting though. On September 20, we reported on Twitter's new feature that allows users to hide replies going live in Japan and the U.S. after first testing it in Canada for several weeks.

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