Facebook added the “like” button as a thumbs-up icon to help users keep count of the influence of their posts, but the company is having a change of heart. Facebook says that it is considering removing the “like” counter from News Feed to prevent envy, depression, and posting remorse.
Facebook mulls “like” counter removal from News Feed
You go to view a post written by a family member or friend and discover that the post has received 500 “likes.” “How do they do it?” You ask yourself. And somewhere deep inside, you feel as though you’re no longer important because you’ve never received that much attention on any of your Facebook posts. Posting Envy is common for Facebook members because, let’s face it, even when we’re in a good situation in our lives, we can’t resist the tendency to compare ourselves to others. You know you’ve done it a time or two, don’t be too shy to admit it (admit it to yourself; we won’t look).
C’mon, you know what it’s like. You go to post something at Facebook to share a special moment, a promotion, a new book you’ve written, buying a new house, etc., only to get a few likes from close family and friends. Those you thought would see the post didn’t see it, and in some cases, only come around to “like” the post ten days later than expected. In some cases, no one “likes” the post, which makes you feel as if you wasted your time writing it.
If you’ve found yourself regretting that Facebook post, you’re a good candidate for posting remorse. Posting remorse is that feeling of regret when you publish a post for attention and get none at all.
Posting remorse could drive Facebook users to stop posting much at all, eventually leading some to abandon the social media platform. That’s the last thing Facebook needs or wants.
Posting Depression and Inadequacy
There’s posting envy and posting remorse, which then lead to posting depression and inadequacy. As posts are ignored and “underliked” as compared to someone else’s, feelings of depression start to set in. “I’m not likable enough,” “few people like me,” “I’m not popular enough,” and so on. All of these feelings and the subsequent depression set in because of the lack of Facebook “likes.”
As some Facebook users start to doubt themselves and their popularity, they begin to feel inadequate, as if they aren’t “good enough” for anything. That loss of self-confidence puts Facebook users in a bad mood, which induces some type of internal stress. And anything mobile users encounter that elicits stress and depression is quickly abandoned. Again, Facebook doesn’t need this kind of user abandon as the world’s most popular social media network with over a billion users.
What Facebook is doing to combat posting envy, remorse, and depression/inadequacy
Facebook wants to be proactive rather than reactive, so Mark Zuckerberg and his team are considering the idea at the moment. Facebook has started testing the idea in its Android Facebook app. The company says it’s already conducted an Instagram Like hiding test but isn’t revealing any positive or negative results from the study. The study has gone live in 7 countries at the moment, including Italy, Japan, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil.
The new Facebook News Feed Like Count removal would only show a few people who like the post, as opposed to the total “like” count.
Social Media depression on the rise
Facebook’s decision to remove like counts from its News Feed coincides with the rise in social media depression. A study presented at the Association of Psychological Science in San Francisco last year (2018) found five common social media behaviors that occur as a result of regular or active use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. In that study, 500 undergraduate users tested proved through their responses that, while college students aren’t using social media due to depression, constant use leads to depression.
Facebook said in a blog post in 2017 that, while interactions with family and friends on social media can contribute to a person’s wellbeing and wholeness, researchers have found evidence that passively consuming information on social media (reading rather than video chatting or texting, for example) is a great cause of mental and emotional stress.
Social media depression may be the rationale behind Facebook’s addition of a suicide prevention tool to Instagram in 2016.