How to make Facebook work better for you: Quit the ‘Like’

Image Credit: afagen

The “Like” button on Facebook seems harmless enough: It’s an easy way to express your appreciation of something.

But as some people are discovering, that innocuous little like has some unintended consequences.

Wired writer Mat Honan found out what happens when you like every single thing that shows up in your Facebook feed. The results were dramatic: Instead of his friends’ updates, he saw more and more updates from brands and publishers. And, based on what he had liked most recently, Facebook’s algorithm made striking judgements about his political leanings, giving him huge numbers extremely right-wing or extremely left-wing posts. What’s more, all that liking made Honan’s own posts show up far more in his friends’ feeds — distorting their view of the world, too.

But Medium writer Elan Morgan tried the opposite experiment: Not liking anything on Facebook. Instead of pressing like, she wrote a few thoughtful words whenever she felt the need to express appreciation: “What a gorgeous shock of hair” or “Remember how we hid from your grandmother in the gazebo and smoked cigarettes?” The result, as you might guess, is just the opposite of Honan’s experience: Brand messages dwindled away and Facebook became a more relaxed, conversational place for Morgan.

While far from conclusive, these two personal experiments are highly suggestive. Facebook’s algorithm is tuned in a way that makes it respond to likes by giving you more of what it thinks is related — and those suggestions are usually driven by brand marketing. Stop liking things, and Facebook eases off the marketing messages, letting your friends’ updates come to the fore.

“Once I removed the Like function from my own behavior, I almost started to like using Facebook,” Morgan wrote, concluding:

Give the Like a rest and see what happens. Choose to comment with words. Watch how your feed changes. I haven’t used the Like on Facebook since August 1st, and the changes in my feed have been so notably positive that I won’t be liking anything in the foreseeable future.

Not so secretly, I think the humanity and love, the kinder middle grounds not begging for extremes, that many of us have come to believe are diminishing in the world at large are simply being drowned out by an inhuman algorithm, and I think we can bring those socially vital experiences back out into the light.

Would you quit the like? I’m going to try it. If you do, too, please use the comments section below to let me know what happens.

More information:

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1.15 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 w... read more »

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71 comments
Lea Hunt
Lea Hunt

OK, I'll give it a try and see if the Facebook experience is different.

Phil Peretz
Phil Peretz

LOL...so far 53 people liked the post

Steve Gadlin
Steve Gadlin

I would be a lot of money that these changes to the feed are just in the experimenter's head.

Kaspar Pae
Kaspar Pae

Btw, it's not about only liking things but also clicking links makes similar effect. When you something it means to fb that you are interested more than what you don't click...

Amine Mus Dehimi
Amine Mus Dehimi

Thanks for this article. I have noticed this fact about 1 year ago, this is why i like only pages that interest me. For my friends even if they make an interesting post i don't like it directly but i try anticipate their future posts based on their old ones so as to be sure that a "like" will not make my facebook an anarchy :p

dylan20
dylan20

@schmutzie glad you found my post linking to yours. Thank you for your post! It’s inspired me to try it too

Laura Lohr
Laura Lohr

I started doing this yesterday after reading Elan Morgan's article.I already started liking fb more!

joannekarma
joannekarma

@cbarthold or rather, why you should only "like" as part of actual comms, rather than blind acknowledgement, perhaps?

Lianna Leong
Lianna Leong

Great stuff. Will experiment too... (Like)

karma seo
karma seo

very interesting experiment about Facebook. I advocate there should be dislike button , how could Facebook allow people to like only . There are lots of things that should not be trending.

Drahcir Yrreg
Drahcir Yrreg

I'm trying this now. Little hard to overcome the reflex like, but I think it's going pretty well so far.

Laura Thieme
Laura Thieme

A good reason to comment in this post. What about sharing?

Lisa Lou
Lisa Lou

Great info. I had already stopped "liking" a lot of posts. This really helps explain it.

Shiffy Elman
Shiffy Elman

Actually, I prefer to see articles of interest from periodicals I enjoy rather than the 39th "look at me" snap of the day from facebook friends.

Amy Nichols
Amy Nichols

Ok I'm going to try this @dylan tweney!

sprout_sarah
sprout_sarah

@Brudaddy Really interested to see what your feed turns into. Will you not click links or watch videos either?

_arnold
_arnold

@KittyKilian Had ik ook last van. Vraag ze of ze foto's en anekdotes mailen. Oldskool.

MadalynSklar
MadalynSklar

@mutasheru I thought about it but I like "liking" my friends posts. I'm on the fence about it. Let me know if you try it.

schmutzie
schmutzie

@dylan20 And thank you for writing about it! It seems that a lot of people want to make FB work for them, not the other way around.

Brudaddy
Brudaddy

@sprout_sarah It will be anecdotal. It will just be my experience, nothing scientific at this time. Don't have the time. ;)

Brudaddy
Brudaddy

@sprout_sarah I will still do that, but I will not "Like" anything. It has been tough so far...seeing some that I almost did.

ErnstJanBos
ErnstJanBos

@oostdam zeker weten........ van niet. Creatie van schijnfans. Een echte fan (ambassadeur ben je in het echie.....

Brudaddy
Brudaddy

@sprout_sarah I will be posting a follow-up. If I can notice a difference in a week, I'll do it then. If not, I'll go 2 weeks.

ErnstJanBos
ErnstJanBos

@oostdam Als het zo ver is, creatie vanuit armoede is in het fundament iets fout. Klant dan nooit centraal.

ErnstJanBos
ErnstJanBos

@oostdam vooral doorgaan met lol maken met elkaar. Houden we het leuk, creatief en spannend. ;-)