Facebook expands hidden ‘likes’ policy from Instagram

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Facebook is rolling out a move to hide the number of likes on users' posts during a trial in Australia this weekend.

From Friday, some Australian users were no longer able to see the number of likes or reactions on another person's Facebook post, following similar moves on the company's photo-based social media platform Instagram in several countries including New Zealand and Canada since May.

Facebook said removing likes from view was an attempt to reduce social pressure among users.

"[It is about] taking that number out of the equation, so that people can focus on the quality of their interactions and the quality of the content rather than on the number of likes or reactions," spokeswoman Mia Garlick told the Australian Associated Press.

People would still be able to see the number of likes on their own posts, the company said.

Ms Garlick said the company had consulted mental health experts and anti-bullying groups over the change. It had also been forecast by tech experts.

Earlier this month, a Hong Kong engineer wrote in a blog that she had discovered prototype code in Facebook's Android app which suggested that it was testing the setting. Facebook declined to comment at the time.

Instagram has not made public any data from its trial in seven countries: Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Italy and Ireland.

The change prompted backlash from some social media influencers who said that displaying likes was an important business metric for them.

The platforms have not said whether the trials will be extended or become permanent.

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