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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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Sondland used WhatsApp to communicate with Ukraine — and won’t turn over the messages: report

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Ambassador Gordon Sondland used WhatsApp to send encrypted messages to a top Ukranian official, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The communication occurred with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to President Volodymr Zelensky, when Sondland was in Kyiv, the newspaper reported.

"Sondland was also texting back and forth on WhatsApp with Yermak throughout the trip, and had been communicating with other Ukrainian officials over the messaging app in the preceding and subsequent months, according to people familiar with his interactions," The Post reported.

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Jeanine Pirro pushes conspiracy theory 2016 election interference ‘apparently’ started in Ukraine

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The United States intelligence community is united in the conclusion that it was Russia that interred in America's 2016 presidential election.

But Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro said that 2016 election interference "apparently" started in Ukraine.

The conspiracy theory underlying the false claim resulted in President Donald Trump seeking foreign election interference from Ukraine, the scandal at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Pirro also said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Geoge Kent is a "bozo."

Video of Pirro's opening was posted on Twitter by President Donald Trump:

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2020 Election

WATCH: Pete Buttigieg surges to first place in ‘gold standard’ poll of Iowa caucuses

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South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg surged in a poll of Iowa released Saturday night.

The poll, by Des Moines Register, CNN and Mediacom, showed major movement in the race.

"Since September, Buttigieg has risen 16 percentage points among Iowa’s likely Democratic caucusgoers, with 25% now saying he is their first choice for president. For the first time in the Register’s Iowa Poll, he bests rivals Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who are now clustered in competition for second place and about 10 percentage points behind the South Bend, Indiana, mayor," the newspaper reported.

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