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Facebook and Instagram to let users hide ‘like’ counts

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 28, 2020 shows the logo of the social network Instagram on a smartphone and a tablet screen in Toulouse, southwestern France. – Facebook said on March 10, 2021 a lightweight version of Instagram would be rolling out to 170 countries, extending the reach of the popular visually-focused social network. Instagram Lite is adapted for Android phones and is likely to gain appeal to users in locations with limited bandwidth or high data costs, especially in the developing world. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

Facebook and Instagram on Wednesday announced plans to let users stop displaying “like” tallies racked up by posts, letting people opt out of seeking status through the approval of others.

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The two platforms will let users shun ‘like’ counts completely or just keep such tallies to themselves, according to Instagram chief Adam Mosseri.

“People will be able to decide if they want to see like counts or not,” Mosseri said in a briefing.

Tools being added to the services will let users turn off “like” features on individual posts or all of them, according to Mosseri.

He expected small creators trying to win fans to be most averse to eliminating “likes,” since they are typically trying to boost their popularity by showing how many people endorse their posts.

A test of the option showed that some people shared more posts when the potential for them to be judged by viewers was removed, according to Mosseri.

Instagram has dabbled with letting users hide “like” counts.

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“In 2019, we started hiding like counts for a small group of people to understand if it lessens some pressure when posting to Instagram,” a Facebook spokesperson told AFP in April.

“Some people found this beneficial but some still wanted to see like counts so they could track what’s popular.”

Running tallies of how many people signal they like posts at social networks can be seen as status symbols or indicators of worth, raising mental health concerns

Some experts say the insatiable quest for “likes” can be addictive and have devastating effects, particularly for younger people.

Facebook said that it has been working with experts to understand how design tweaks such as the one being tested at Instagram can support well-being of users while providing control over how they engage with the service.

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