Facebook will start hiding likes on Friday but not for everyone. The tech company said the approach will be a limited test that will begin in Australia.
Likes, Reactions, And Video View Counts Will Be Made Private
A Facebook spokesperson said that the social media giant will run the test where likes, reactions, and video view counts will be made private across Facebook and visible only to the post's author.
Facebook also plans to collect feedback so it can understand if the change will improve user experiences.
If the approach improves people's sense of well-being without affecting user engagement, the feature could expand to more countries and may even roll out sitewide.
Approach Tested On Instagram
The company has already indicated plans to experiment hiding likes earlier this month after testing the approach on Instagram.
The purpose of the test on the photo and video-sharing social networking, which Facebook acquired in 2012, was to remove the pressure on users of how many likes their posts receive.
Instagram is now hiding like counts in seven countries, namely Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Italy, and New Zealand.
"We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. This includes helping people to focus on the photos and videos they share, not how many likes they get," a Facebook spokesperson said.
Social Media And Mental Health
Facebook tested the approach on Instagram in a bid to protect users' mental health amid concerns social media use is associated with depression, particularly in teenage girls.
Research published in August that involved nearly 10,000 teens between 13 and 16 years old has shown that frequent use of social media can compromise teenagers' well being.
"Frequent use may disrupt activities that have a positive impact on mental health such as sleeping and exercising, while increasing exposure of young people to harmful content, particularly the negative experience of cyber-bullying," said study researcher Russell Viner of the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health.
Facebook's decision to test the approach on its core platform is also meant to address mental health issues.