Facebook today announced that after extensive testing, it is rolling out the ability to hide likes on either Facebook or Instagram. However, the original plan to hide likes by default has changed, as the social media company is not turning the feature on by default.
The social media company says that it originally wanted to test hiding like counts to see if it would reduce the amount of pressure some users felt on Instagram. It reports that while this did happen for some, it wasn’t universal.
“What we heard from people and experts was that not seeing like counts was beneficial for some, and annoying to others, particularly because people use like counts to get a sense for what’s trending or popular, so we’re giving you the choice,” the Instagram explains in a blog. The sentiments were echoed on a Facebook blog.
The company has instead shifted the conversation to one about control and giving its users more of it when it comes to individual experiences.
“We’re looking for more ways to give people control over their experience,” the company says. “That’s why we announced new tools to allow people to filter offensive content from their DMs and gave people ways to control what they see and share on Facebook’s News Feed – like the Feed Filter Bar, Favorites Feed and Choose Who Can Comment.”
Anyone can now hide likes both on content that they post as well as content that they see. Instagram says that it is giving users the option to hide like counts on all posts in their feed and also the ability to hide like counts on their own posts so other people can’t see how many likes a post gets.
“This way, if you like, you can focus on the photos and videos being shared, instead of how many likes posts get,” the company says.
Users can also hide like counts on posts made by others by visiting the new Posts section in Settings. This control applies to all posts that appear in a user’s feed.
On Facebook, this feature can be found in the “Settings & Privacy” in the News Feed Settings. From there, users can hide the number of reactions on both posts they make and posts they see.
Instagram and Facebook’s focus on user choice has a good ring to it, but questions remain if this new option will be used by those who need it most. Those suffering from depression or those who use Instagram as a way to feel validated are unlikely to hide the dopamine hit that comes from seeing like numbers. It’s unclear how widely used the feature will actually be or if that information will be provided down the road.