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    X Hides Likes: Some things to consider

    Microblogging platform X (previously known as Twitter) is making the ‘like’ feature private for everyone to ‘better protect privacy,’ as per a tweet by the company’s Engineering account. Following this update, users will not be able to see who liked someone else’s post, although they can view who liked their own posts, which posts they themselves liked and their own like counts.

    Earlier, Haofei Wang, Director of Engineering at X, had confirmed this move by the platform. On May 22, 2024, he posted, “Public likes are incentivizing the wrong behavior. For example, many people feel discouraged from liking content that might be “edgy” in fear of retaliation from trolls, or to protect their public image.”

    By hiding who likes which post, Wang claimed that users will be able to like content without worrying about visibility. He added that the ‘For you’ algorithm on X improves as users like more posts.

    Users skeptical of new X update

    Responding to X’s post on June 12, some users criticised the move to hide likes. Some said that the action will enable frantic bot activity and boost specific posts – a significant development considering elections in Indian states and other countries are yet to take place. Another user suggested making the update optional, as likes can help increase exposure for individuals like artists.

    Can hiding likes protect privacy?

    Aside from reducing transparency, it is unclear what other impact hiding likes will have. India’s Allahabad High Court in October 2023 already ruled that merely liking a post online does not amount to publishing or transmitting obscene material online and will not lead to legal penalties. To read more about the ruling, click here.

    At the same time, there have been reports like in May, 2024, where a Mumbai college asked its principal to resign for liking social media posts related to Palestine and the ongoing Israel-Palestine war. According to NDTV, the principal was pressurized by school authorities to leave for her comments/ likes on X were deemed “pro-Palestine” and “sympathetic towards Hamas.” Incidents like these curb free speech online, so hiding likes on X may protect people’s privacy and autonomy. The bigger question that needs to be considered in all this then is: should people’s privacy come at the cost of platform transparency?

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    The post X Hides Likes: Some things to consider appeared first on MEDIANAMA.

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