The BeReal App Aims to Bring Authenticity to Social Media—I Test-Drove It

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These days, you blink and there’s a new social media app making the rounds. It’s become almost a full-time job, toggling between the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, with each one promising users a totally different experience: Instagram is the millennial favorite for picture-perfect snaps and artful photo dumps; TikTok is more Gen Z oriented and focuses on candid, humorous videos that can go wildly viral. But now a new app is aiming to bring something to the social media space that other platforms tend to lack: authenticity.

Launched in 2019 by Alexis Barreyat, a former GoPro employee, BeReal—which has raised $30 million in Series A funding and grown its user base by 315% in the last year alone—is quickly on the rise. The app’s mission is simple: to make users post candid, spontaneous, filter-free content without the overanalyzing or overthinking that attends other social media experiences. Every day the app prompts you randomly with a push notification and you have just two minutes to post and share a photo with your friends—whether you’re feeding your fish, leading an important work meeting, or getting frisky on a Friday night.

Once you’re ready to take your snap, the app’s camera uses both your front and back cameras to capture a selfie and whatever it is you’re doing. (These pictures, which are viewable for 24 hours, cannot be manipulated in any way, although you do have two minutes to retake them, if need be.) The idea is to do what you can to make the deadline, no matter the circumstances—the antithesis to the pro-influencer approach, where every social media post is planned right down to the outfits, location, and time of post. (If users fail to produce a BeReal post on time, their upload gets a shameful “posted late” tag.)

The app is one of several that have popped up recently promising a real experience. Dispo, for instance, is inspired by old-school disposable cameras, encouraging users to share photos that aren’t edited. (You also can’t see them until the following morning at 9 a.m., allowing them time to develop.) Intrigued by the idea of an app basically forcing you to share your daily happenings, however, I decided to test-drive BeReal for a week. Below is what I learned.

Day one

It’s my first day on BeReal, a glorious Monday, and I’ve begun by forcing half of my friend circle to get on the app. If I’m going to be posting unhinged content for a week, I’m going to need to see something in return. My cool, young Gen Z coworkers are unsurprisingly already on the app, so they befriend me instantly. Now it’s time to post. I patiently wait for the notification, and it comes in the early afternoon. I’m working from home today, so my first BeReal is quite boring: I take a selfie in my living room. Only I forget that the app’s camera is double-sided, so my back-camera view is completely blurry. Oh, well. I don’t retake it, and I post it with the comment, “I don’t know how to use this thing.” It’s giving boomer energy.

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