After prototyping what Like count-less Facebook would look like earlier this month, Facebook moved forward with official testing Thursday and rolled out this new format to Australian users.
“We are running a limited test where like, reaction, and video view counts are made private across Facebook. We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences,” a Facebook spokesperson told Gizmodo.
Folks will still be able to see all these totally-not-self-validating totals on their own posts, just not on everyone else’s. Without this stamp of relative popularity to compare to (and subsequently agonize over), Facebook hopes the move might make users more comfortable to express themselves openly on its platform. It could also encourage users to decide to engage with a post solely based on its content rather than blindly joining some numbers-game bandwagon.
The company’s been conducting similar testing on another of its apps, Instagram, since April. Given the differences between the two platforms, the testing announced Thursday is a completely separate beast run by Facebook’s News Feed team.
Facebook hasn’t disclosed any of this data from Instagram as its begun to trickle in, but reactions seem to be positive given that the trials were expanded to six additional countries in July according to Techcrunch. This new Facebook format could similarly roll out further depending on how the company gauges users’ reactions in this first round of testing.
Anything that cuts down on the anxiety of checking my news feed is a win in my book. Though I’m happily surprised to see one of the progenerators of the capitol “L” Like and this whole online engagement rat race leading the charge to make social media platforms a little less soul-crushing. Obviously Facebook will still have plenty of other issues with or without a public Like count, but at least it seems one of the tech behemoths is beginning to realize how our always-online lifestyles could stand to be a little healthier.