Facebook latest to hide vanity metrics, after Instagram, YouTube and Twitter

Social media network Facebook has started prototyping hidden like counts in its Android app, said an app researcher who posted screenshots on Twitter. This comes after the Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube all made similar moves this year.

According to the screenshots, the number of people who liked or reacted to a post is hidden but the list of people is still accessible by the public. Only the creator can see the actual count. However, in the test, the like counts on comments are not hidden. Marketing has reached out to Facebook for a statement.

In May, Facebook announced in a blog post that it was running a test in Canada that removes the total number of likes on photos and video views on Instagram. Also in the same month, YouTube said it will be rolling out "abbreviated" subscriber counts for creators who pass the 1,000 subscribers mark. The decisions came hot on the heels of Twitter’s prototype app launch in March, named Twttr, which does not display the number of likes, retweets and replies upfront, and hides them behind a click.

Just last week, YouTube was forced to explain its decision after hearing "a lot of feedback from the community" abbreviated public subscriber counts, which is being gradually rolled out throughout September. A Google employee said in a support thread:

Beyond creating more consistency, ​this addresses creator concerns about ​stress and ​well-being, specifically around tracking public subscriber counts in real time.​

He added that the move seeks to help creators focus on telling their story, and​ experience less pressure​ about the numbers. While the company acknowledges that "not everyone will agree" with the update, it hopes it is a "positive step" for the community, both viewing and creating content.

With the change, the count on a channel that has 4,227 subscribers for example, will read “4.2k” until it reaches 4,300. Creators can continue to see their full subscriber counts privately in YouTube Studio and YouTube Analytics.

In a conversation with Marketing previously, industry players said the the trend of steering away from vanity metrics should be encouraged as it helps marketers to focus on more brand-correlational KPIs such as awareness and reach. It also helps to remove "deception" and bring to light true engagement results. On the influencer marketing front, the focus would be shifted from the influencers' likability to the brand affinity that they elicit and the talkability that they influence.

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