Technology, Smartphones, Games

Social Media Platform X Makes Likes Private to Protect Users' Public Image

Social media platform X is changing its policy on likes, making them private. CEO Elon Musk says this move is important because it lets users like posts without fear of backlash. Initially, hiding likes was an exclusive feature for X Premium subscribers, promoted with the slogan “[Keep] spicy likes private.”


Haofei Wang, the company’s director of engineering, explained that this change is meant to protect users' public images. He mentioned that many people hesitate to like “edgy” content because they worry about how others will view them. To address this, the engineering team announced that likes will be private for all users starting this week. This means no one will be able to see who has liked other users' posts, which might help reduce public relations problems for celebrities and other public figures who like controversial content. However, users will still be able to see who liked their own posts, along with the total number of likes and other related statistics.

A source from the company told The Verge that the trend in social media is moving away from displaying like counts, so this change aligns with that direction. The source also suggested that Musk might want to distance X from its former identity as Twitter.

This new policy removes one of the incentives to buy a premium subscription, as previously, only X Premium subscribers could hide their likes. Last year, X saw a drop in advertising revenue, which led to the introduction of new subscription tiers to help with financial difficulties. The Premium+ tier, costing $16 per month, offers an ad-free experience, while the basic tier, priced at $3 per month, does not include the blue checkmark on profiles.

The decision to make likes private comes shortly after X revised its policy to allow pornography on the platform. In this update, X stated it would accept consensually produced adult pornographic content, as long as it is “properly labeled and not prominently displayed.” Previously, Twitter had permitted pornographic content, and according to Reuters, such content made up about 13 percent of Twitter's uploads in 2022.

In summary, X is making likes private to allow users to like content without fear of judgment. This change aligns with a broader shift in social media away from public like counts. The move also follows the platform's new policy on allowing labeled adult content.