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How does BeReal work?

BeReal is the realistic antidote to Instagram’s augmented highlight reel

Creating a new social media platform is relatively easy in developing terms, but making it catch on is difficult. Periscope, FriendFeed, Meerkat, Vine, Friendster, and others have long perished, but Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like still remain. But, the only recent social media platform to attain mainstream popularity and even overtake some of its elders was TikTok.

The fact that many of these social media giants are owned by Meta and can simply replicate whatever their new competitors are doing makes it difficult for newer ideas to thrive. Enter BeReal, a social media platform focused more on authenticity than getting likes. 

BeReal’s primary feature is that it notifies all users of a two-minute window to post, asking them to create a BeReal. This prompts sending photos from the front and back cameras. Users consider the app authentic because you’re not able to choose when you take the picture, meaning it has to be relatively genuine compared to Instagram. Some BeReal users consider it a big difference compared to Snapchat or Instagram, as most people post the pic during the time window instead of leaving it for later. Others consider it a good way to connect with friends far away. Critics of the app have called it the “poor man’s Snapchat Stories.” BeReal focuses on private social behavior and is marketed to be more intimate than Instagram.


BeReal Vs Instagram © Elise Wrabetz

It also doesn’t have an image moderation process, meaning users can post all sorts of inappropriate photos with only a possible report warning to fear. And there’s also the conspiracy theorist camp that considers the app to be another medium to quantify user activity patterns, considering how most of its investors are tied to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

But, regardless of these conspiracy theories, college students, who were among the app’s primary user demographic, stated how BeReal lets you see a whole other side to people that isn’t just their presentable side.

In reality, BeReal has been out since 2020. As with many Internet-related things, it became popular two years after due to TikTok. Gen Z’s growing dislike of Instagram motivated many to seek other, more authentic communication channels.

Millions of dollars in investment really helped the app surge in popularity, including paid ambassador programs on college campuses. 

Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau developed the app. Its supporters have praised its emphasis on authenticity, though others consider it too simple to warrant prolonged use. As of August 2022, the app has over 10 million active daily users and 21.6 million active monthly users.

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