X Will No Longer Let You See Likes. What Will This Mean For Posts?

X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has introduced a new update that transforms how users interact with likes. As announced earlier this week, X will now conceal the likes a post receives from anyone but the post’s author.

Elon Musk, the CEO of X, has expressed that this change is designed to allow users to like posts without fear of judgment or backlash. “Important to allow people to like posts without getting attacked for doing so,” Musk tweeted. He believes that the visibility of likes has more downsides than benefits, primarily the potential embarrassment it can cause.


Why Hide Likes?


The decision to make likes private may seem minor, but it addresses a deeper issue within social media: the anxiety and social dynamics driven by public metrics.

Previously, the visibility of likes could lead to uncomfortable situations where users’ preferences, sometimes of a personal or sensitive nature, were publicly accessible. This was particularly troublesome for profiles that had liked controversial or adult content.

For instance, Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe, who is not very active on the platform, had his likes scrutinized after users noticed adult content in his liked tweets. While Neil might not find this embarrassing due to his public persona, for the average user, such exposure could be distressing. Musk noted, “People should feel free to like stuff without embarrassment.”


How Will This Affect User Interaction?


The update has implications beyond just user comfort; it might also alter how people engage with the platform. According to X’s engineering team, making likes private is expected to encourage users to interact more freely, boosting personalisation and engagement on their ‘For You’ feed.

“This privacy measure is about fostering a more genuine interaction on the platform,” remarked a spokesperson from X’s engineering team. Users are now likely to like more freely, enhancing their engagement without the overhang of public scrutiny.



Also, these are some more things to look at when it comes to X’s likes being private:

Content Creators’ Dilemma: Content creators who relied on public likes as a measure of engagement and popularity might need to find new strategies to gauge audience interest.

Changes in Platform Dynamics: With likes going private, the dynamic of viral posts might change, possibly making it harder for posts to gain traction purely based on visible popularity.

Impact on Advertisers: Advertisers’ strategies change, as the direct measure of post popularity through likes will no longer be visible. They can still rely on analytics from different socials.


What Can We Learn From Other Platforms?


The conversation around the visibility of ‘likes’ on social media isn’t new. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook have experimented with hiding likes, with mixed responses from users and brands since 2019 or so. Its said to improve user well-being and encourage more authentic content sharing.

Authentic Content: Users may post more genuine content that is more true to their likes and interests rather than focusing on what is most likely to trend.

Improved Interactions: With like counts hidden, users are encouraged to engage through comments and deeper discussions, enhancing the quality of social interactions.

Reduced Performance Anxiety: The pressure to compete over like counts diminishes, potentially reducing stress and improving users’ mental health.

Challenges for Content Creators: Influencers and marketers lose a vital metric for gauging post popularity and engagement, which can impact their strategies and income.

Potential Decrease in Platform Value: For some users, especially influencers and marketers, the removal of like counts may lessen the perceived economic value of social media engagements.