International Facebook considers "hiding likes" in an attempt to improve users' mental health

Facebook considers “hiding likes” in an attempt to improve users’ mental health

The social networking giant made moves toward hiding like counts as the mental health of users suffer from the pressure of comparing themselves to others, a seemingly innocent habit that has become, in many cases, destructive, self-deprecating behaviour

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SINGAPORE — Social media giant Facebook is considering hiding the public display of “likes” on its News Feed posts, as confirmed by a Facebook spokesperson to international news agency AFP on Tuesday (Sept. 3).

Earlier this year, the company conducted similar tests on popular social media platform Instagram, also owned by Facebook. It announced that it was testing hiding like counts in seven countries by keeping the count from others. However, account holders would still be able to see how many likes their own posts garnered.

The social networking giant made moves toward hiding like counts as the mental health of users suffer from the pressure of comparing themselves to others, a seemingly innocent habit that has become, in many cases, destructive, self-deprecating behaviour.

While it may be human nature to compare and contrast oneself with others, social media hasn’t made it any less easier to be content with what you have, especially when you see others’ lives looking so glamorous or adventurous.

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But social media is not reality, as we all know. It’s easy to post perfect photographs that have been edited and loaded with filters. It’s easy to “fake” your current state of being—a thoughtful quote paired with just the right yoga pose, for example, might say to people that your life is great, everything’s fine, you’re in great shape and you’re feeling contemplative.

In reality, you’re probably at home, scrolling through social media in your pyjamas, wondering why so-and-so (who you haven’t seen in ten years, but who cares?) has such an exciting, glittery life.

Social media has taken a turn somewhere, from being a place of connectivity to a platform of envy. It’s implied that if you have more followers, you’re more popular. If your posts receive more likes, people notice and like you more. If your posts and pictures don’t get as many likes, you’re probably not that interesting.

While many compare the reaction to their posts and photos to those of other users’ posts and photos, some people even delete posts that they think are not getting enough likes on social media platforms.

The pressures surrounding getting as many likes, hearts and reactions as possible has led to mental stress, anxiety, emotional difficulties and even clinical depression. And it’s not just about how many likes you get—it’s about whether or not others can see how many likes you’ve got.

In August, Facebook said it began the test to “remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive” on Instagram, and it was “excited by the early test results.”

The advent of social media has brought with it many advantages to humanity, like the ability to connect people and to spread the call for help easily and quickly, but it has also come with its own unique set of problems.

Perhaps removing the likes count will remind users that we should not look for happiness in the approval of others and that what we do with our lives doesn’t need to be validated by other people.

Facebook has not yet revealed when the feature will be made live on both social media platforms. /TISG

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