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.
— Domi (@WhatADayDomi) November 25, 2020
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.