Both Twitter and Instagram have been toying with the idea of removing “likes” from posts on their main newsfeed, and it seems that Facebook may be following suit.
Facebook is looking into taking “likes” out of the equation, making them only visible to the user on their own profile. This would obviously mark a major shift in the way the platform operates, but also potentially make it a much friendlier (and healthier) place to be. Likes have turned into a dopamine fix of sorts for many users—even becoming the impetus to even post status updates or pictures in the first place.
When that photo or status update doesn’t achieve the desired number of likes, well, it kind of hurts. Suddenly the reaction (and number of reactions) has eclipsed the value of the original content itself, and become a primary driver to sharing on Facebook.
Facebook is seeking a return to when original content was posted for its own sake—not just to gauge the online echo chamber’s reactions. It also wants to remove the scenario where internal worth is received through one’s internet prowess.
Personally, I believe this move away from “likes” is a good one for social media platforms. With so many younger people practically living in the social media stratosphere, their self-esteem can be tethered to their popularity online. That’s obviously not a very healthy way to operate, and can mold one’s personality to constantly seek out validation from others.
By looking into removing the visibility of reactions, Facebook is on the cusp of radically changing its platform. But it might just be a move in the right direction: one that puts value and emphasis on simply sharing content, as opposed to a competition for engagement.