Whenever I sit down and read the news every morning, I expect to see Facebook somewhere. Maybe one morning I’ll see a BBC article about Facebook’s lawsuit, or maybe I’ll find a CNN article about the unprohibited spread of fake news on the social media site. Point is, I expect nothing but bad news from Facebook. I think this expectation is valid.
However, this morning was a bit different; I find myself sort of…agreeing with a decision Facebook made which is terrifying.
What decision could Facebook have possibly made that forced an avid hater to agree with them? Well, it all has to do with the Likes system.
Will Removing Likes Solve Facebook’s Bias Problem:
Hiding Likes, Hiding Bias:
TechCrunch reported that Facebook is testing the removal of Like counts on News Feed posts. This means that users wouldn’t be able to see how many people actually liked the post. Yes, don’t worry, you can still like a post, but no one would know you liked it.
So, what does Facebook have to gain from this move? Why would removing the like count on News Feed posts help the user in any way? Well, it’s pretty simple: personal bias.
Social media is, at its core, a communication tool, except instead of one-on-one communication, you’re communicating with the world. While this is amazing and brings many opportunities, potential communication with millions, even billions of people has its share of downsides. One of these downsides is the feeling of bias against yourself when compared to others.
Avoiding Personal Bias:
Social media houses many online “influencers”, people who thrive and live on their chosen social media platform. When you take a look at their profile pages, you ‘re looking at a highlight reel of their life: only the best parts of their life. However, it can be hard not to think lowly about yourself in comparison to these influencers because, at the end of the day, you may not have as big of a highlight reel as them.
It’s not only influencers either; most people only post the best parts of their life on social media. After all, why would you share the worst moments with everyone else?
Feelings of inadequacy are common on social media, especially with the younger demographics, who think that these highlight reels are the person’s actual life, not a highlight a reel.
This is the bias that social media, especially Facebook, bring: bias against yourself, AKA personal bias. A bias that can make your existence feel as random as a password made in Chrome’s random password generator. What I’m saying is that this personal bias can really take a toll on a user and steps need to be taken to prevent these feelings of inadequacy.
However, all that said, will remove Like counts are effective in lessening the personal bias that users experience?
A Bright Future:
This isn’t Facebook’s bias first rodeo. They tested this feature on Instagram in 7 countries earlier this year, and while we don’t know the results of the test, Facebook commented that they were “excited” by said results. Now, this is Facebook we’re talking about, so that answer could be nothing but a lie, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt just this once. Just this once.
If Facebook goes ahead with the removal of like counters in the News Feed, it’ll for sure receive criticism. However, I hope they decide to keep the change anyways, as the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term criticism.
The world has become digitally-focused, with many people living on social media versus merely visiting once or twice a day. Due to this societal development, it’s important that care is taken on social media and the companies behind the sites lookout for the interests of their users, especially when it comes to mental health. Facebook may be on to something, and as much as it pains me to say it, they may be right.
However, I still wouldn’t trust them, even if they offered me a VPN deal of 100% off. One right can only correct one wrong, not one million.