Facebook and Instagram Allow Users to See “Likes” Or Not.

In a surprising move both Instagram and Facebook will be giving all users the ability to hide the number of “likes” or “reactions” a post gets from the public. This will change a keystone of the platforms as “likes” are seen as social currency on social media, a measure of status and influence.

Facebook has been experimenting with the idea since 2019 and the company sees it as a way to make Facebook and Instagram less stressful or anxiety-inducing to use.

Every user can choose whether people can see the number of likes on their own posts and also whether to see how many people liked other users’ posts, according to a blog post by Facebook.

The social media giant has been working to reverse mounting disapproval about the fact that social media platforms can be harmful to the mental health of its users and society at large. However, users have to choose the option, it will not be a default, so it remains unclear how many users will take this step or how much the platforms will really change because of the new option.

Can you put down your smartphone?

A few weeks ago 60 Minutes aired a segment called Brain Hacking. The Victor crew was surprised by some of the information.

Tristan Harris, a former Google product manager, compares smartphones to slot machines. Every time you pick it up and check on it, you are looking to see “what you get.” The person being interviewed, said that techniques are used to cause people to keep checking their phones and apps.

In another part of the segment, we find Ramsay Brown, a programmer who understands how the brain works and writes code accordingly. Co-founder of Dopamine Labs, tries to write apps based on the pleasure and desire in our brains. They try to find ways to keep people using apps longer or more often. For instance, he says Instagram may hold back some of your “likes” and release them in a sudden burst. They even try to figure out when the best moment to release them is. You don’t pay for social media like Facebook – advertisers do. He says it’s “your eyeballs are what’s being sold there.”

Read more about the segment.

What does Facebook know about you?

In a new study conducted by Stanford University in California and the University of Cambridge through an app on Facebook called ‘myPersonality’, there were 86,220 volunteers who completed a 100-item personality questionnaire. They also gave the researchers access to their ‘likes’. The scores revealed five traits: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

The app also allowed the users to ask friends and family to answer a 10-item test about the test subject.

What this showed was that the computer could predict the user’s personality better than any co-worker based on 10 Facebook likes and even better than a close friend or roommate with 70 like; a parent or sibling with 150 likes; a spouse with 300 likes.

They found the average Facebook user has 277 liked pages.

Jody Victor