The most iconic part of Facebook’s social media system, the famous ‘like’ button may have its days numbered. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered yesterday hidden in the app to allow users to hide the number of likes they are getting on a post or series of updates. Wong found a similar piece of code on Instagram mere weeks before the app started to roll out testing to hide likes on posts in select geographic locales.
The move to allow users to hide their likes marks a shift in how the social media platform deals with interaction. The like button was initially introduced in 2009, but after research came about that showed that users’ psychological state might be affected by their social media interactions, the platform decided to take action. It is hoped that by hiding the button, the platform will become less stressful for users to utilize.
Is Decreased Toxicity Possible?
The University of Pennsylvania found last year that students that limit their time on social media networks to less than ten minutes per day displayed a significant decline in their symptoms of depression. Just last week, the Royal Society for Public Health mentioned that they considered Facebook’s ‘Like” button to be the most toxic social media addition for users of the United Kingdom. While no guarantee exists that blocking the like button will help users to deal with their feelings of depression, doing so may make the application feel like less of a high-school popularity contest.
Facebook declined to comment on the discovery, but Instagram is currently testing a system that functions similarly on their app. The aim, according to the company, was to stop the platform from feeling so much like a competition. Based on how Instagram users interact with each other, this might be a lot harder than it seems on the surface. The new trend of social media platforms is to aim to make users feel more comfortable on them. However, to accomplish this goal, the networks seem to be removing their simplest tools for interaction with others. Only time will tell if this is a good idea.