Long before the Cambridge Analytica issue, Facebook was known for being the social media site that allows people to show their “like” for something, while also allowing users to see the number of “likes” they receive from others. Now, a new report says this might change soon.

Facebook told MarketWatch that it is considering hiding the number of likes a post receives from users. The new feature, which is still being considered, has been spotted by a code hunter named Jane Manchun Wong. The feature effectively hides the number of likes a post gets from the public, but makes it visible to the one who made the post.

This feature is similar to the one Instagram tested months ago. At the time, the feature, which was also spotted by Wong, did not display the number of likes an Instagram photo receives from Instagrammers.

The Instagram feature did not prevent people from liking photos. People can still like the photos they want to like, but the number of likes a photo gets was hidden from the public. Only the owner or poster of the photo was given permission to see the number of likes his or her photo received.

Not the first time

MarketWatch noted that this isn’t the first time Facebook, as well as Facebook-owned Instagram, tested such a feature. Instagram first tested hiding like counts for users in Canada, then tested it in other countries including Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand.

Instagram’s test was conducted after a report from the British Information Commissioner's Office suggested that social media features such as “likes” encourage users to keep engaging with social media networks, The Independent noted. The more time users spend on social media, the BICO, noted, the more damaging it could be for their wellbeing.

The BICO then suggested rules that prohibited the use of such features for social media networks or sites that are unable to accurately determine if their users are 18 years old or younger.

A huge impact

The new feature is expected to significantly affect Facebook’s 2.41 billion monthly users, particularly those who keep track of the number of likes their posts receive from other users.

Facebook says it is considering no longer displaying how many "likes" a post has racked up Facebook says it is considering no longer displaying how many "likes" a post has racked up Photo: AFP / DENIS CHARLET