Facebook hides ‘likes’ in Australia trial to ease anxiety

Account holders across Australia will also be blocked from viewing the number of reactions and video views on other people’s posts. (AFP)
Updated 27 September 2019

Facebook hides ‘likes’ in Australia trial to ease anxiety

  • Account holders across the country will also be blocked from viewing the number of reactions and video views on other people’s posts

SYDNEY: Facebook on Friday said it began hiding the number of “likes” for posts in Australia, a trial designed to ease social pressure that could be rolled out worldwide.
Account holders across the country will also be blocked from viewing the number of reactions and video views on other people’s posts from Friday, but will still be able to see how people respond to their own.
“We don’t want Facebook to feel like a competition,” the company said in a statement.
“This is a test to see how people engage with this new format.”
“We hope to learn from this over time in order to see if we will roll this out more broadly.”
More than one billion people use Facebook worldwide, but the social media giant has come under pressure to combat the platform’s impact on mental health.
In Australia, one in five children report experiencing cyberbullying, according to the country’s eSafety commissioner.
The problem received national attention last year when a 14-year-old girl — who starred in adverts of an iconic Australian hat brand — killed herself after being bullied online.
Facebook’s decision comes after it launched a trial in July to hide “likes” on the company’s other major social media platform, Instagram.
What began as a test on Instagram in Canada was expanded to Australia, Brazil and several other major markets.
The Facebook trial was described as “a limited test in order for us to get some early learnings.”
“While this has been testing on Instagram, Facebook and (Instagram) are different surfaces and we will likely see different data come from this test.”
The social media giant did not confirm how long the trial would run for.
“We want to understand from people whether removing the total counts improves their experience, while also not limiting any positive interactions,” said Mia Garlick, of Facebook Australia.


Palestinian journalists protest wounding of colleague

Updated 17 November 2019

Palestinian journalists protest wounding of colleague

  • Muath Amarneh has been in an Israeli hospital since he was hit in the eye Friday during clashes
  • Dozens of Palestinian journalists rallied Sunday with one eye covered in solidarity

JERUSALEM: “The eyes of truth will never be blinded,” protesters’ placards read, as Palestinian journalists wore eye patches Sunday to decry the wounding of a colleague in the occupied West Bank.
Muath Amarneh has been in an Israeli hospital since he was hit in the eye Friday during clashes between Israeli border police and Palestinian demonstrators in the village of Surif, close to Hebron in the southern West Bank.
Dozens of Palestinian journalists rallied Sunday — protesting with one eye covered in solidarity.
Amarneh, who is being treated in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, said he was some way from the protesters when he was hit by what he believes was Israeli fire.
“After the clashes started, I was standing to the side wearing a flak jacket with press markings and a helmet,” the freelance cameraman told AFP on Sunday.
“Suddenly I felt something hit my eye, I thought it was a rubber bullet or a stone. I put my hand to my eye and found nothing.”
“I couldn’t see and my eye was completely gone.”
He said doctors at the hospital told him a fragment of metal, about 2 centimeters long, pierced the eye and settled behind it near the brain.
Amarneh’s cousin Tareq, accompanying him in hospital, said doctors planned to extract the metal but changed their minds after discovering they could also damage the right eye or even trigger bleeding in the brain.
A spokesman for the Israeli police denied that the photographer was targeted, saying fire was “not directed at all” toward him.
“The security forces operated in the area in front of dozens of rioters, some of them masked, who threw stones at officers and burned tires,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
“The response by the forces was using non-lethal means in order to disperse the rioters.”
Amarneh, who comes from the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, claimed he was targeted as a journalist.
“There is an unnatural and ugly targeting of journalists,” the father-of-two said.
Since the incident Palestinian journalists have launched a campaign, with protests in several cities in the West Bank.
In Bethlehem Sunday, border police dispersed a sit-in by journalists at the checkpoint north of the city, an AFP journalist said.
Demonstrators wore eye patches and held signs aloft.
Tear gas cannisters were fired by the border police, the journalist said.
Seven people were lightly wounded, according to Palestinian health officials.
In the city of Tulkarem, about 250 journalists took part in a sit-in to show solidarity, according to journalists present.
A video and photos of Amarneh spread immediately after his injury, with journalists trying to carry him with blood flowing from his left eye.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate says 60 journalists have been hit by live ammunition this year, the majority in Gaza — an enclave where violent weekly protests along the border often lead to dozens of demonstrators being wounded.