Only two short months ago, I wrote a piece for this blog announcing Instagram’s plan to say sayonara to likes. That’s right, the holy grail of value (and the ultimate status symbols for influencers, brands and individuals alike) was cut from the team. And while this removal was only tested out in seven countries, the response was unified: People like to count their likes.
Fast forward to the end of September. News broke last week that Facebook is in talks to roll out a similar test of the removal of likes. I mean, this doesn’t come as a total shock: Facebook owns Instagram, so it makes sense. But we’re all a little emotional over this one. From what we gather, poor Australia (again) is the first to bat with the removal of Facebook likes and video views.
Facebook is working to hide like counts, too!https://t.co/WnUrM12aZg
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) September 2, 2019
Here’s what we know
Similar to Instagram, the option to like something will still be present, and users can still scroll and view who liked the piece of content. What ends up being hidden is the total amount of likes a piece of content received, which for any non-sociopath, shouldn’t be a problem.
Facebook made a public statement acknowledging how seriously they take their users’ mental health, saying they understand that the like button and validation are closely tied together, particularly for their younger audiences. The main takeaway is that they want to create a less pressurized environment.
Some experts say the move will help alleviate social media-related anxiety—while others fret that it will ruin the influencer industry. https://t.co/U9dDwhbVSy
— ABC News (@ABC) September 28, 2019
Think about it: When users post content that gets attention, the likes roll in. The more likes that come in, the more chances that piece of content has to show up in other newsfeeds, resulting in even more likes. Engaging content linked to topics and people you follow are all a part of Facebook’s larger algorithm. And while that sounds attractive, there have been many instances of extreme content—from memes to horrific live-streams—posted to Facebook in an attempt to gain enough engagement to go viral.
While Instagram’s removal of likes has us pivoting to other Instagram tactics, this Facebook update, in my opinion, is for the best. Regardless of the type of content, the amount of likes should not be a determining factor of success. Not only is this a false form of validation, but it also assists in identifying a “viral” piece of content, which is often inherently incorrect.
I’m really here for the removal, and I’m sticking by what I said back in August: I’m not here for the likes, I’m here for the content, baby.