Facebook confirmed this week that it’s considering testing the removal of the number of “Likes” on posts from public view.
So, for example, your dog picture would no longer have the number 20 next to the little thumbs-up icon. You, personally, would still be able to see exactly who liked your own posts, but other users wouldn’t.
But would users support this idea, or would Facebook be upsetting the apple cart? CivicScience asked more than 1,800 people (age 13 and up) across the U.S. to find out.
Excluding those who aren’t on Facebook, the numbers are fairly tepid across the board.
When it comes to users’ own Facebook time, they were a bit more likely to say the potential change would cause them to log in to Facebook less often than vice-versa. Overall, though, most people would just ride it out.
Which Users Like The Idea, and Which Ones Don’t?
We’ve seen that the overall numbers are largely neutral, with a slightly negative tilt. But given the makeup of the group that supports removing Like counts, Facebook will have some things to think about. For instance, 13- to 24-year-olds over-index as supportive of the potential change.
Thirty-nine percent of Gen Z respondents who use Facebook said they’d approve of removing Like counts, making 13- to 24-year olds the only generation more likely to approve than disapprove.
Gen Z was also by far the age group most likely to say they’d use Facebook more if Like counts were gone.
Gen Z users were 60% more likely to say they’d use Facebook more without Like counts than they were to say they’d use it less. That’s an enticing figure if Facebook is looking to inject some youth into its user base.
Women were twice as likely as men to say the potential change would make them want to use Facebook more.
Facebook’s Most Frequent Users Oppose the Change — But Tech Junkies Love It
People who scroll their Facebook feeds at least once per day are far more likely to dislike the potential change than to like it, by more than a 3-to-1 margin. Still, though, half of daily Facebook users were neutral. Those who use Facebook less than daily — 29% of all users, according to CivicScience’s data — were more supportive.
On the other hand, those who say they follow technology trends “very closely” overwhelmingly like the idea:
In the CivicScience survey, tech trend-watchers were an extraordinary twenty times more likely than others to say that they’re “much more likely” to use Facebook if Like counts go extinct. With Instagram (which Facebook owns) already testing out hidden Like counts, could it be that Facebook is ahead of the curve on this one?
While the prevailing opinion on removing Like counts leans more negative than positive, it seems that most people simply wouldn’t mind either way. It’s also clear that a large amount of support for the idea is coming from young people. Many of these young respondents — along with tech trend-watchers — say removing Like counts would make them use the platform more, a demographic shift that Facebook would certainly like.
Only time will tell whether Facebook actually runs these tests on users’ news feeds, though — and whether Americans’ opinions of the idea would change if it were put to use.