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Facebook hides ‘likes’ in Australia trial to ease anxiety

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Facebook has begun hiding the number of “likes” for posts in Australia, it said Friday, a trial designed to ease social pressure that could be rolled out worldwide.

Account holders across the country will also be blocked from viewing the number of reactions and video views on other people’s posts from Friday, but will still be able to see how people respond to their own.

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“We don’t want Facebook to feel like a competition,” the company said in a statement.

“This is a test to see how people engage with this new format.”

“We hope to learn from this over time in order to see if we will roll this out more broadly.”

More than one billion people use Facebook worldwide, but the social media giant has come under pressure to combat the platform’s impact on mental health.

In Australia, one in five children report experiencing cyberbullying, according to the country’s eSafety commissioner.

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The problem received national attention last year when a 14-year-old girl — who starred in adverts for a well-known Australian hat brand — killed herself after being bullied online.

Facebook’s decision comes after it launched a trial in July to hide “likes” on the company’s other major social media platform, Instagram.

What began as a test on Instagram in Canada was expanded to Australia, Brazil and several other major markets.

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The Facebook trial was described as “a limited test in order for us to get some early learnings.”

“While this has been testing on Instagram, Facebook and (Instagram) are different surfaces and we will likely see different data come from this test.”

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The news was met with a mix of “skepticism and appreciation” from cyberpsychology researcher Jocelyn Brewer, who welcomed Facebook’s review of the impact of “vanity metrics” on people’s wellbeing.

But users will find other means to express a reaction, she added.

“As with many behaviours, I believe it is likely that people will adapt from liking to commenting and other actions that achieve online recognition and identity signalling,” Brewer told AFP.

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The social media giant did not confirm how long the trial would run for.

“We want to understand from people whether removing the total counts improves their experience, while also not limiting any positive interactions,” said Mia Garlick, of Facebook Australia.


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Dems must target ‘dirty princeling’ Jared Kushner if GOP makes impeachment trial about Bidens: strategist

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President Donald Trump has signaled that he wants Senate Republicans to turn his impeachment trial around on Democrats by actually making it a trial of the Biden family.

The president on Thursday signaled that he wants former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, to testify at his impeachment trial in an effort to make the trial less about his own misconduct and more about purported misconduct by the Democrats.

However, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg on Thursday proposed a plan to counter this kind of misdirection: Going after Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose shady dealings with world leaders have so far escaped significant scrutiny.

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Democrats crippled their own impeachment effort with a rushed timeline: columnist

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House Democrats made a conscious decision to keep impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump as short and efficient as possible. On one hand, they had sensible reasons for wanting to do so — they were concerned that a protracted impeachment battle that drags into the 2020 election would lose engagement with the American people and draw criticism for attempting to interfere with the election.

But Thursday, NBC News analyst Kurt Bardella argued that Democrats may also have caused problems for themselves by making the impeachment process too short and setting arbitrary deadlines.

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Trump’s former mistress is taking on Fox News for accusing her of extortion

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According to a lawsuit filed against Fox News by a former Playboy model who says she had an affair with Donald Trump before he was president, network host Tucker Carlson falsely accused her of extortion by claiming she “approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money," The New York Times reports.

"Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion," Carlson said during his show on Dec. 10, 2018. "Yet for whatever reason, Trump caves to it, and he directs Michael Cohen to pay the ransom. Now, more than two years later, Trump is a felon for doing this. It doesn't seem to make any sense."

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