Social media has its pros and cons. It allows us to stay connected with our friends and family in a fun manner. It allows us to make new friends with similar interests. It helps keep us informed and lets us share issues that are important to us with others. There is a dark side to social media as well. It makes it easy to compare ourselves with others and become either depressed or jealous, and it is easy to spread misinformation on social media. Filters and editing make it simple to fake on social media.
A new social media platform, BeReal, is working to change some of the more negative aspects of the medium. As often happens in the tech world, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat quickly worked to copy BeReal on their own platforms. Imitation is the highest form of flattery after all. Before we get into all that, let’s take a look at BeReal and its features.
BeReal is a two-year-old social media platform that was created by Alexis Barreyat, a former GoPro employee, and launched in 2020. The app was not an overnight success. According to The Washington Post, in its first two years it only got downloaded two million times by mostly French users. This year saw big growth for the app with 56 million downloads and an expansion to overseas markets such as the United States. In August alone, it was downloaded an estimated 11 million times, which makes it the most-downloaded, non-gaming app in the world for that month, according to Apptopia.
How BeReal works
The app is simple. Once a day, at a random time that the app chooses, users get a notification saying “time to BeReal.” Users then have two minutes to take a photo of whatever they are doing at the moment. The photo taken will use the phone’s rear and front facing cameras showing both the user and what the user is seeing. Late photos and retakes are permitted but frowned upon. There are no metrics such as likes or followers. Posts do show how many times a picture was taken to get the final product and how late it is.
BeReal says its purpose is to “to create a candid and fun place for people to share their lives with friends. We want an alternative to addictive social networks fueling social comparison and portraying life with the goal of amassing influence.”
Because of its rapid growth, other social media platforms such as TikTok are copying BeReal so they do not become obsolete. TikTok Now was announced on September 15, and it is virtually the same as BeReal. On the TikTok app, look for a new tab right next to the home button at the bottom. Users will be prompted once a day to post their photographs or videos that show both the user and what the user is seeing. The main difference between the two apps is that TikTok allows for 10 second videos as well as photos while BeReal only allows photos. TikTok said it is experimenting with this new feature. It is available in the United States as part of the app. In other parts of the world, TikTok Now might become a separate app altogether.
Instagram and Snapchat
Instagram and Snapchat are also copycatting BeReal. Developer and notable leaker Alessandro Paluzzi, sleuthed out Instagram’s Candid Challenges before it was released to the public. It has exactly the same premise as BeReal. Snapchat copied the dual cameras having announced this feature in April but rolled it out in August.
Regardless of what happens to BeReal in the long run, it appears that it has left its mark on the social media world at large.