Facebook has been testing the removal of Likes since May 2019 on Instagram. Now, as Jane Manchun Wong recently discovered, Facebook is experimenting with hiding Reaction counts on Facebook.
According to Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, the purpose of hiding Likes is
about creating a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. That message was reiterated in a July 2019 statement by Mia Garlick, Director of Policy for Facebook in Australia and New Zealand, when she said
we hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love.
Facebook hiding Reaction counts on Facebook is an indication that they think the Instagram tests are accomplishing the goal of removing pressure. It’s also an indication that removing the counts isn’t affecting usage and profit.
It’s difficult to tell whether or not hiding Like or Reaction counts benefit users. If the change is meant to relieve pressure, but usage remains the same, then pressure may not be the cause that needs to be alleviated.
Facebook wants to balance profits with mental health, but that goal may not be achievable if the best thing for its users is significantly less time on Facebook.