Remove Facebook likes?

Social media platform is considering a test to hide likes

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Thumbs up or down: should Facebook remove likes?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

It can feel good when someone likes a post or a photo on your Facebook profile - but there is a danger that it can feel too good.

The social media platform could soon start to hide its Like counter for users as part of a test.

However, it could be too little, too late with users already "too deep in validation addiction".

The Claim

After Instagram tested hiding the Like counter in seven countries, such as Brazil, Canada and Ireland, Facebook is considering a similar move, Tech Crunch reports.

The social media platform could show a few names of mutual friends who have liked a post, rather than revealing the total number.

They report: "The idea is to prevent users from destructively comparing themselves to others and possibly feeling inadequate if their posts don’t get as many Likes.

"It could also stop users from deleting posts they think aren’t getting enough Likes or not sharing in the first place."

Facebook is reportedly prototyping the hidden Like counts on its Android app. The company confirmed to Tech Crunch that it is considering testing their removal, but it is not live for users yet.

The Counterclaim

However, The Sun's Joely Chilcott argues that social media will be "toxic", even if it hides likes.

She says that we are "too deep in validation addiction", leaving us hopelessly addicted and "driving us to depression".

Chilcott writes: "Social media platforms, now counting the cost to society of their clever but competitive sites, are at last taking steps to repair the damage. And the quicker, the better."

She reports that the like button is considered by social media users to be its most “toxic” feature.

The Sun's Fabulous editor adds: "I have been bitten by the compare-and-contrast bug, fuelling the cycle of self-doubt that the seemingly harmless like button brings.

"If I, a 31-year-old who understands how social media companies work, can feel like this, how must a vulnerable teenager feel?"

The Facts

The first like button on social media was created by video sharing site Vimeo in 2005. Facebook introduced its thumbs-up like button in 2009, followed by YouTube and Instagram in 2010.

A like on social media can give users a physiological high as part of the brain's reward system, which releases dopamine. This interaction on social media can also give validation to its users.

In a blog for Harvard University, Trevor Haynes explains that smartphones have provided us with "a virtually unlimited supply of social stimuli, both positive and negative". A like on Facebook has the possibility of being a dopamine influx.

He writes: "Although not as intense as hit of cocaine, positive social stimuli will similarly result in a release of dopamine, reinforcing whatever behaviour preceded it.

"Cognitive neuroscientists have shown that rewarding social stimuli - laughing faces, positive recognition by our peers, messages from loved ones - activate the same dopaminergic reward pathways."

Facebook is the most popular social media platform in the world. There are over 2.41 billion users who log in to Facebook every month.

Facebook users generate four million likes every minute. On average, a user likes 10 posts, makes four comments, and clicks on eight adverts every month.

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