Here’s why Elon Musk made ‘likes’ private on X

This new feature rollout follows Elon Musk’s directive to X engineers to remove tweet action buttons and prioritise impressions.
Elon Musk
Elon Musk

NEW DELHI: Elon Musk’s social media venture, formerly known as Twitter, has initiated a significant change by making the ‘likes’ on posts private. The purpose of this move, the social media giant said, was to enhance user engagement on the platform. Originally introduced as a feature for premium subscribers, this update is now accessible to all users. X emphasises that this move enhances user privacy by concealing the identities of those who have liked a post.

How It works

Users will now be able to view posts they have liked but these likes will remain hidden from others. Additionally, users will no longer see who has liked someone else’s posts. However, post authors retain the ability to view the list of users who have liked their posts, and metrics such as like count will still be visible under notifications.

Initially, speculation has arisen regarding the mechanics of this feature. Will it merely hide the number of likes on a post, or will it impact users’ own like counts? Addressing these concerns, X employees have clarified that this change does not affect the likes received by a user’s posts. Users will still have visibility into who has liked their posts, as well as metrics such as post and reply counts. The primary objective of this update is to safeguard the anonymity of users who engage with others’ posts.

This new feature rollout follows Elon Musk’s directive to X engineers to remove tweet action buttons and prioritise impressions. Concealing likes serves as a means for users to manage their public image. Haofei Wang, X’s director of engineering, asserts that ‘public likes’ often encourage undesirable behaviour on the platform. He notes that many users refrain from liking certain content due to concerns about potential backlash or damage to their public image.

Enrique Barragan, a senior software engineer at X, has clarified that users will still be able to track the number of posts and replies on their own posts, but the visibility of likes will be restricted to the post authors. Likes play a crucial role in the platform’s algorithm as they influence the content users are exposed to. This update is expected to lead to a more tailored timeline, aligning with users’ interests.

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