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X Introduces Private Likes

X (formerly Twitter) has introduced a new feature: private likes. This feature removes the “Likes” tab from users profiles meaning their liked tweets will no longer be visible. The initiative, already available to X’s Premium subscribers, is now extended to all users.

The Rationale Behind Private Likes

Elon Musk says he introduced this change to protect users from backlash and encourage free expression. Haofei Wang, X’s director of engineering, noted that users often avoid liking controversial content due to fear of public scrutiny. Making likes private aims to create a safer space for users to interact without social repercussions.

Some users have criticized this rationale, arguing that X is effectively protecting individuals who endorse discriminatory or prejudiced content.

Implementation and Features

With private likes, the “Likes” tab on user profiles will be removed. Users will still see the total number of likes on their posts and who liked their content. However, they will not see who liked others’ posts. 

Historical Context and Comparisons

This move is part of a larger trend in social media, where platforms reconsider the visibility of engagement metrics. For instance, Instagram allows users to hide likes on their posts. Reddit keeps upvotes private, even from the post’s author. However, X’s implementation of private likes is unique due to its specific cultural and operational context.

Elon Musk’s tenure at X has included many ambitious and sometimes controversial changes. His vision often involves minimising traditional engagement metrics in favour of other forms of interaction. 

User Reactions and Opinions

The introduction of private likes has elicited various reactions from X users and industry observers. Some users welcome the change, appreciating the added privacy. 

However, some critics argue that making likes private may diminish the social utility of the feature. Likes have traditionally served as a form of passive endorsement and a way to build online communities. Concealing who has liked a post may reduce community building and social interaction. There are also concerns about potential increases in spam and bot activity, as the anonymity of private likes could obscure those engaging with posts.

On the day the feature was introduced, #BringBackLIKES was a trending topic, making users views clear.

#BringBackLIKES was trending on X
[Image Creds: X]
Many users have also expressed negative feelings towards the change as they liked the feature, they appreciated seeing what other users had liked and were happy for others to see their likes.

X post that reads: likes private so now i'm just gonna start quoting [thumbs down/thumbs up emoji] on posts
[Image Creds @PlZZAPLANETS on X]
The introduction of private likes on X has sparked diverse reactions among its users. While some appreciate the increased privacy, others miss the social engagement that public likes provided. Concerns about spam and bot activity remain prevalent. Whether this change will be permanent or if public likes will make a return is yet to be seen.

[Featured Image Credit: X]


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