Facebook Tests Hiding ‘Likes’ on Social Media Posts

The social network, which has been under fire for extreme content on its site, said it was testing making Likes to posts private in Australia.

SAN FRANCISCO — For years, people who use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have chased Likes as a status symbol. More Likes on a social media post meant it was popular, engaging and worthwhile.

To gain Likes, people were sometimes motivated to post messages and videos that they had calibrated to go viral. That helped lead to a proliferation of violent, radical or otherwise extremist content on social media that set tongues wagging.

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Now Facebook is moving to limit the importance of Likes and other metrics.

On Thursday, the social network said it was starting a test in Australia, where people’s Likes, video view counts and other measurements of posts would become private to other users. It is the first time the company has announced plans to hide the numbers on its platform. Facebook said it had not decided whether to roll out the experiment beyond Australia.

“We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences,” said Jimmy Raimo, a Facebook spokesman. He added that the site wanted to be a place where people felt comfortable expressing themselves.

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