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Facebook prepares to hide likes in Australia

Back in June, Facebook announced it would be running a strange sounding test for Instagram. Likes, the main currency of the platform and the building blocks of a thousand Influencer careers, would be hidden from view, with only the account holder able to see how popular a post was. 

Now Facebook is planning to try the same trick on the main site, albeit with only a fraction of its user base: the 25 million people that live in Australia. The test will apply to likes and other reactions across posts, ads and even videos with view counts hidden to everyone except the sharer. Crucially, that means that businesses will still have access to the same analytics and insights they rely on. 

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Mia Garlick, the director of policy for Facebook Australia, told the Australian Associated Press that the move was to prevent people from negatively comparing themselves to others, and was based on wellbeing research. 

We’ve had really positive feedback from a lot of the anti-bullying groups and mental health organisations that we work with,” she told the site. “It really is just taking that number out of the equation, so that people can focus on the quality of their interactions and the quality of the content rather than on the number of likes or reactions.”

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For now, the test is only for Australia, while the Instagram equivalent is still ongoing in Canada, Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand, as well as Australia. No time line for expansion has been revealed, nor is it clear the change will ever go beyond Oceania. 

That said, the Instagram version is apparently going well. “We have had some initial positive feedback from the public about the experience, but we’re still just learning and listening to feedback at this stage,” Garlick said. 

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