Facebook mimics Instagram and removes likes in test for Aussie users

A majority of Australian Facebook users will no longer be able to immediately see the number of likes and views on a post from this morning.

The test, which also has a control group who will continue to operate under Facebook’s previous system, will measure if the change elicits more meaningful interactions on the platform.

At this stage, there is no time line or metrics on how Facebook will determine whether the test becomes the platform’s standard operating procedure. Instead, the social media giant is seeking consumer feedback and will be measuring sentiment.

The platform believes, however, that consumers will be discussing the change by 4pm today around the water cooler.

Instagram, the photo sharing platform which is now a subsidiary of Facebook, implemented a similar trial earlier this year.

Despite the parallels, Facebook’s Australian head of policy Mia Garlick was cautious to draw too many comparisons between the trials.

How consumers have previously viewed each other’s posts on Facebook

“We’ve certainly had positive feedback on Instagram,” she said, before stressing that the platforms are now used very differently, and thus needed different policies, approaches and perspectives.

“We want to see whether removing the visibility of the likes and reaction count increases the value that people find when they’re connecting and sharing on Facebook. So do people find that this helps them focus on the quality of the interactions, rather than getting distracted by the quality of likes and reactions?”

What the test group will see

Much of the coverage around Instagram’s move centred on the mental health benefits. Was this a focus for Facebook?

“Certainly, a large part of the driver for this is based on feedback from wellbeing researchers, and we’ve certainly had positive comments from mental health experts, and there is evidence that if you can see other people’s like counts, then that can impact how you’re interacting on the platform. So we just want to see if this is something that, by removing it, and making it private, if this does increase the value people find on the platform,” Garlick said.

Garlick: “We’ve had positive feedback on Instagram”

“So it’s based on part of an overall trend across both of the platforms towards making sure that the experience people have on our platform is positive and intentional.”

According to Garlick, brands need not worry, the commercial side of Facebook remains the same.

“There’s no changes from this test that will impact ad measurement or delivery,” she told Mumbrella. “And so in terms of the insights and the data that you get in terms of the objectives that you run your campaigns to, those are still as they always have been. The key change here is on the consumer side, that consumers will not be able to see a visible like count number, and hopefully if everybody’s use on the platform is higher quality and more positive and intentional, it’s a great result for everyone, including advertisers.”


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