By Stacey Leasca
July 18, 2019
Getty Images

Instagram is making a radical change to its platform in an effort to get back to its community roots.

The social photo-sharing app announced on Thursday it would no longer display likes on posts in Australia and several other countries. This test, Instagram noted, is to offset the social pressure people now feel about gaining “likes” online.

“We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love,” Facebook Australia and New Zealand director of policy Mia Garlick said in a statement. “We are now rolling the test out to Australia so we can learn more about how this can benefit people's experiences on Instagram, and whether this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story.”

The test first took place in Canada, however, likes reappeared on Canadian accounts two days ago, Business Insider reported.

Though the likes will not be visible to others, they will still be visible to the user who posted the image. So, you can see your likes, but nobody else can.

Instagram is also testing this no-likes approach in Ireland, New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, and Italy. Users in those countries will see the following message when they log on:

“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test only you will be able to see the total number of likes on your posts.”

In 2017, the Royal Society for Public Health released a study showing “social media may be fueling a mental health crisis,” especially with young people. For the study, researchers polled nearly 1,500 young people about their thoughts on social media. It found that of all the social media outlets Instagram scored the lowest for health and wellbeing.

“Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect,’” one responder wrote to the survey.

To combat negative effects of social media, the Royal Society for Public Health urged social media outlets to make changes including flagging images that had been digitally manipulated. It also called for “safe social media use” to be taught in schools. Though these changes have not been made, hiding “likes” could potentially help users enjoy social media . No word yet on if the no-like feature will roll out to the United States.

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