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Likes on social networks should be private

It feels good to know when someone enjoys what I’ve written.

There’s a discussion around the visibility of “Favorites” on Some people want them to be a sort of bookmarking tool only for the person adding the Favorite. Others want them to resemble other social networks, in that they prefer “Favorites” (aka “Likes”) to be visible to all users. This benefits the network by encouraging everything to become a popularity contest and is exactly what I don’t want.

Opinion: Likes should be visible to only the Like-or and the Like-ee. Liking something is a simple, unobtrusive way to let someone know I appreciate what they wrote. It’s also a way to get a little bump when someone likes what I wrote. No one else need be involved.


  • Des
  • Eli Mellen

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  1. Should likes be public or private on a social network?
    I like the solution outlined here a lot. This solution is clever because it capitalizes on the dopamine of passive interaction (e.g. not having to write a response, but still signaling agreement/support/like-y-ness) while disarming the issues around massive re-broadcast.
    I think this sort of conscious design choice can simultaneously help prevent online harassment, preserve the usefulness and fun of social networks and not run into the trap of squashing “free speech,” which seems to be the internet’s favorite excuse for not addressing systemic abuse.


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