This social app prohibits edited images to encourage users to be more authentic. It is growing fast

There’s a newer photo sharing app – and it’s not like other social media platforms.

We joined the app and talked to users to get a deeper understanding of how BeReal works and what you need to know about it.

BeReal is a social media app that encourages users to share a snippet of their lives in real time. It was launched in early 2020 by an entrepreneur in France, but a majority of its users – at least 65% – have signed up this calendar year.

As the name suggests, the focus is on authenticity. Users are invited once a day to share a picture of what they are doing at the moment, giving friends and others an unvarnished insight into their lives.

It has no filters and no edit buttons. So if your hair is a mess at the moment and you have a view of a rainy parking lot, this is what people will see.

The result is far from the polished, overly curated images that are popular on other social media platforms.

The BeReal app was launched in late 2020 and is growing rapidly in popularity among young people.

How does it work?

The concept of BeReal is simple. Once you have downloaded the app, you will be notified once a day that it is time to “BeReal”. This means you have two minutes to take a picture and post a picture of what you are doing, no matter how banal it is.

There is no set time – the message comes at random times of the day – and adds to the app’s mystery.

“Push notifications are sent around the world simultaneously at different times each day,” the company said in a statement. “It’s a secret about how the time is chosen every day, it’s not random.”

This means that the potential window to your life can be opened at any time. When that happens, the app invites you to take a picture of what you’re up to at that moment. It takes a double picture – a selfie and one that shows what’s in front of you. (BeReal does not allow videos yet.)

The result is a social feed filled with unedited images of people doing pretty much everyday, unglamorous things – relaxing in their pajamas, doing homework, riding the bus, making their dinner in the microwave.

With only one post a day, there is no clutter of friends’ photos that one can easily scroll through. You can only see friends’ posts if you share a photo, which eliminates smarter. Some people turn off their location for privacy reasons as the app works in real time.

Georgetown University student Ben Telerski, 21, is an avid social media user and joined the app in August.

“What I like about BeReal is that I’m able to connect with my friends via social media on a platform that does not encourage likes, comments or being artificial. … solely by showing your friends, what are you doing at the moment, when the daily emergency response starts, “says Telerski, a junior specializing in government.

Telerski says the postings he sees on the app are generally more authentic compared to other social media platforms.

“I try to write as soon as I see the notification, even if I’m just sitting in bed or going to class,” he says. “I think the amount of authenticity depends on the persona each person creates on social media. If someone is trying to keep their social media presence very polished and produced, BeReal is not the app to use.”

Ben Telerski and Alexandra Henn in a photo from his BeReal app.  The app takes a double image showing the user's selfie and what's in front of them.

What happens if you do not post within the two minutes?

When you click on the BeReal notification once a day, your camera opens in the app along with a timer with a two-minute countdown. You have until the timer runs out to take a picture of what is in front of you. At the same time, your rear-facing camera takes a selfie.

The app shares both images. You can repeat them at any time during the two minutes and share them with friends when you are ready.

BeReal also allows users to take and post the photo later in the day. But it lets your friends know how many hours after the notification you sent. In short, it puts you on the blast for your lack of spontaneity.

Why do people use it?

BeReal has taken advantage of marketing on university campuses. It recruits young users through its college ambassador program, which allows students to host events that educate others about the app.

Telerski believes that the app is popular because it is an antidote to the pressure to look perfect online.

“I’ve seen a lot of news coverage lately about the negative mental health impacts that social media has on Gen Z. I do not know if BeReal is directly trying to combat this problem, but it’s definitely heading towards that goal.” he says.

Morgan Nott, 26, runs a tea shop in Reno and is a beginner on the app. She started using it last week at a friend’s suggestion. Nott says she finds it refreshing to have a non-airbrushed, non-idealized insight into other people’s lives.

“It’s the authenticity of it that makes it so appealing. Users are not as glamorous or fake as some may portray themselves on other platforms,” ​​she says. “It is something else.”

In a statement, BeReal says its goal is to create “an alternative to addictive social networks” that focuses on gathering influence, it said.

“BeReal is your chance to show your friends who you really are,” the company says. “BeReal will not make you famous, if you want to become an influencer, you can stay on TikTok and Instagram.”

Are BeReal posts really that authentic?

The app does not give you much time to put on makeup or stage your surroundings before you snap and post pictures.

But some users may still try to cure their lives on the app.

“There is potential to be as artificial on BeReal as people tend to be on other platforms,” ​​says Telerski. Some people may ignore the message of writing at a particular time and wait to write until they are dressed for and out to dinner with friends, he says.

“It’s not in the spirit of BeReal and completely defeats the purpose,” he says. “BeReal should be filled with pictures of (people) walking, doing homework and sitting in bed watching Netflix.”

The young people CNN spoke to have no plans to give up Instagram, TikTok and other social media apps.

Nott says she plans to keep letting her guard over to BeReal – and also continue to write on other social media platforms.

Telerski says he is trying to maintain a certain level of authenticity on social media regardless of the platform. Authenticity is determined by someone, not an app, he says.

“For those who think we need a new social media app to be truly authentic, maybe we should take that as a sign of being more authentic through our existing social media presence,” he says.

“Think about what social media was originally meant for – genuine connection through family and friends that follow your life. Maybe we should return to that.”