Insider sources say that Facebook is thinking about changing some basic features, such as hiding ‘likes’ from public display, making them a private indicator available only to the owner of the account. This, say experts, is somewhat similar to their decision to hide ‘likes’ on their Instagram company accounts in Southeast Asia.
The idea seems to be to diminish the popularity contest mentality of posting that makes many users feel diminished when their posts don’t bring in tremendous numbers of ‘likes.’ According to psychologists such digital rejection can be just as damaging to young users as a verbal rejection on the playground or at home.
Facebook management has told reporters that while it is considering the move, it is not yet ready to release a statement to the media as to when or how such an action will take place. Those familiar with the Facebook upper management team say that it is not going to be a unanimous decision by any means.
Once the story broke early yesterday, the Twitter-sphere heated up with thousands of comments, pro and con, about the proposed change. A hasty canvass of responses showed that Facebook users were split down the middle, fifty-fifty, about the idea. Those in favor of it said it would emphasize quality over popularity and help lift the overall tone and creativity of posts; plus it would discourage some of the more brazen hate mongering sites from posting. Those opposed to the change were of the opinion it would not make much of a difference to the quality of current posts and would put a damper on the wide variety of information and opinion currently available on Facebook.
The real debate, say social media experts, centers around how stressful the whole ‘like’ culture has become, both on Facebook and Instagram. They say that life for most of us has become overly stressful without having to worry about how many ‘likes’ our posts receive, and that too many people base their own self image at least partly on collecting and boasting about ‘likes’ as if they were trophies or awards.