Australian Facebook Follows Instagram, Says Goodbye to Like Counts

September 26, 2019Australia
Australian Facebook Follows Instagram, Says Goodbye to Like Counts
Stickers bearing the Facebook logo are pictured at Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose, Calif., on April 30, 2019. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

Australians will soon notice their Facebook news feed is missing something with like counts set to disappear.

Users will no longer see the number of likes, reactions and video views on other’s posts in a world-first trial which starts rolling out from Friday, Sept. 27.

Instead, likes will be private and only visible to the post’s author in a change that follows a similar test on Instagram which started in July in Australia.

Facebook Australia’s Director of Policy Mia Garlick said the change was based on wellbeing research and feedback from mental health professionals that like counts can cause social comparison.

“We’ve had really positive feedback from a lot of the anti-bullying groups and mental health organisations that we work with,” Garlick told AAP on response to the change.

“It really is just taking that number out of the equation, so that people can focus on the quality of their interactions and the quality of the content rather than on the number of likes or reactions.”

Facebook logo and people on computers
Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken on March 28, 2018. (Dado Ruvic/IREUTERS/)

It’s hoped that people will be more comfortable with sharing on the platform rather than feeling like it’s a competition, she said.

Garlick assured businesses who rely on Facebook they will still receive all the same metrics and insights they previously accessed.

She said it was too early to say if the test would roll out to other countries like Instagram’s trial has in Australia, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Japan, Italy and Ireland.

Similar to Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, there is no date specified when the trial will end or if the change will be made permanent.

“We have had some initial positive feedback from the public about the experience (on Instagram), but we’re still just learning and listening to feedback at this stage,” she said.

On being the world’s training ground Garlick said Australia has very active “tech-savvy” users of Facebook and Instagram.

“We think this is a great country where we can get some really good feedback about whether this is a valuable experience for people on our services or not.”

By Laura Polson

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