January 26, 2021
gtag('config', 'AW-657395349');

Google is testing a likes counter for stories in Discover feeds


Google continues to tinker with how it lets users tailor the stories they see on their Discover feed: first, it was a “slider” button; then came an actual binary “slider” indicating whether someone wanted to see more or less of that type of story; nowadays, it’s become the ubiquitous “like” heart icon. The next natural step? Putting a number next to it.

If you don’t regularly partake in the Discovery feed, it’s the left-most home screen pane for many Android users which features a Google search bar at the top, some local weather information, and a list of news articles ideally aligned with the user’s interests.

Some users are now seeing a tally showing how many other people have liked the story.

Whether a tally on one vertical alone increases people’s tendency to engage with the “like” button will depend on other dynamics — on Twitter and YouTube, there’s the concept of “ratioing” where users weigh against liking content in favor of an alternate engagement indicator to show their disapproval. But that’s a thesis to be written.

In the meantime, we have this live experiment instead.