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  • Raghav Sand

FB and Instagram Users Will Now Have the Option to Hide ‘Like’ Counts

Having choices is empowering and liberating. Social media is part and parcel of modern life. Each individual uses it for reasons best known to them and the duration of engagement differs accordingly. Facebook (FB) was already the most popular social networking site in the world, but after the timely acquisitions of Instagram and Whatsapp, it has taken an unassailable lead. On May 26, FB published a blog titled ‘Giving People More Control on Instagram and Facebook’.

Among other changes, that have been made to the platforms owned and operated by FB in the last year or so, giving users the choice to hide like counts is being seen as a positive step towards depressurizing and addressing mental health issues. As social beings, all of us strive for acceptance and admiration; there is nothing wrong in pursuing these goals. The situation may turn counterproductive if the above-mentioned pursuits are undertaken with heightened anxiety and diminishing self-worth.

Image Courtesy: Facebook

Option to the User: Like it or Not!

The “like” button, which first appeared on FB in 2009 in the form of a thumbs-up symbol, has for years been the primary measure of social-media success. Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the company was willing to make the change even if it proved detrimental to its business interests. “The hope here was to try and depressurize the experience a little bit,” Mr. Mosseri said on a call with reporters ahead of the feature’s formal rollout. “It turned out that it didn’t actually change nearly as much about the experience in terms of how people felt or how much they use the experience as we thought it would.”

Hiding likes proved controversial among Instagram users during the feature’s testing, he said, with some account holders approving the disappearance of a key popularity measure and others complaining that it robbed them of information about posts’ relevance. Instagram users click on a heart symbol to show that they like a post. “I think we had a sense that we were going to lose users,” Mr. Mosseri said. “It doesn’t look like we are going to.” With almost three billion monthly users, FB is the world’s largest social-media company.

Don’t’ Quantify Love or Self-Worth (Please)

The new feature will have the option to hide like counts on all posts in your feed. You’ll also have the option to hide like counts on your own posts, so others can’t see how many likes your posts get. This way, if you like, you can focus on the photos and videos being shared, instead of how many likes posts get. You can hide like counts on others’ posts by visiting the new Posts section in Settings. This control applies to all the posts in your feed.

Users can also choose to hide like counts before sharing a post. They can turn this setting on or off, even after it goes live. Users want more flexibility, so FB thought it would be important to give them the option. In the next few weeks, users will see both of these controls come to FB.

Quantifying self-esteem can lead to depression. Social media platforms are being used by people in more ways than its creators could have ever imagined. They were built to empower people, build self-awareness and shape a more positive experience on the internet. There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, but during the Covid-19 pandemic, social media platforms helped to create awareness about covid-appropriate behaviour.

Pervasive Technology

As per an article published in VOGUE magazine, “Silicon Valley’s pervasive technology is now an existential threat to humanity”. It further stated, “the average adult worldwide is spending two hours a day on social media and some teenagers are spending up to nine hours a day”. In February, Government of India released the data about user count on popular social media platforms. WhatsApp has over 53 crores users, followed by YouTube which has over 44.8 crores users. FB has around 41 crores, Instagram has 21 crores while Twitter has 1.5 crores. These are not small numbers by any means. Some of the social media platforms have more users than the population of most countries in the world.

The Resurgence of User Experience (Finally)

FB is looking for more ways to give people control over their experience. That’s why they announced new tools to allow users to filter offensive content from their DMs and gave them ways to control what they see and share on FB’s News Feed — like the Feed Filter Bar, Favourites Feed and Choose Who Can Comment.

FB and Instagram along with YouTube, helped us watch and share videos about cooking, gardening and exercising. No other product or service was able to create such a positive influence on our life in the past fifteen months. A platform is as good as we make it. How we use it? When we use it? Why we use it? And, how much we use it? – is all in our hands. We cannot overuse it or use it for the wrong reasons or look for instant and constant validation, and then blame social media companies.

Undoubtedly, all the major social media platforms deploy sophisticated algorithm to enhance user engagement. After all, the amount of time we spend on them is directly proportional to their advertisement revenue. Nothing good in life is free, you always pay in the end. The attention of the user on a platform is all that matters for the social media company. Your focus is their currency. And, more than anything else, focus is a matter of choice.

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