Facebook is considering a tiny, how huge, change to the interface of its main social network. In the same way as being tested on Instagram, Facebook could also remove the “Like” count on uploaded posts.
The move is important because the metrics of the Like were imposed over the years as a tool for vanity, marketing, self-evaluation, comparison and much more. The number of the Like had acquired a perception of its own and therefore a meaning of it going even well beyond the simple merits or demerits that a quantitative evaluation of this type can transmit. Now Facebook would have started a series of tests that will have to assess what the consequences of a similar move could be, both in terms of community and advertising.
Less Like, more content
The feeling transmitted by the Zuckerberg team is that behind this move there is an attempt to remove pressure from users, so that no one can post on the network feeling excessively under observation: the number of likes too often was considered as a gauge of popularity, triggering a confusion of comparisons and more or less legitimate (and more or less absurd) tools to inflate one’s social ego. Removing the numbers from the public view would erase this empty showcase, letting everyone see, count and evaluate their Likes, but without everything being available to the community. It will no longer be the Likes to photograph the success of a post or an account, therefore: prepare everyone, change the model.
No one underestimates this change: for as small as it may appear, it will impact billions of news feeds and will change the way many users will approach their relationship with the social network. In the ambitions of Facebook, all this should limit the instrumental attempts to shape up the engagement of their own bulletin boards, avoiding posting or deleting posts due to the reactions they collect and the perception they can leave to others. Greater freedom means greater creativity and less homologation, trying to bring back to Facebook that brilliance that over the years has been lost among the “very good”, the controversies, the empty sharing and the obsessive search for the Like.
The experiment is in progress: Facebook has confirmed it to TechCrunch, even without revealing much about how much in the laboratory. It is not yet said that the number of Like can actually disappear, but the mere fact that Zuckerberg is thinking about it and making it known suggests that the tests are already at an advanced stage and that the choice has already been made altogether.
The counter of the Like will disappear and with it at least part of that vain approach that Facebook has embodied for millions and millions of users. The road to a healthier social platform also passes through these small make-up, but also the need for more substantial interventions in terms of content. A blow to the circle and one to the barrel, to confirm to Facebook what Facebook is: the throne of the King of social networking.