BeReal, the hottest new social media app, has exploded in global popularity in recent months as millions of Gen Z and Millennials migrate to the instant photo-sharing app that has no filters and “won’t make you famous.”
While apps like Instagram and TikTok are unattainable places of beauty and wealth, BeReal offers users the opportunity to share one photo a day that offers a true snapshot of their life using their phone’s front and rear cameras.
Despite being the antithesis of other sites, BeReal’s “less is more” ethos is resonating after it became the most downloaded app on Apple in July and recorded a total of 21.6 million active users worldwide. the world during the same time, more than 1.2 million of whom are Australians. .
While some critics called BeReal boring and accused it of highlighting the mundanity of everyday life, several viral posts show the power of sharing just one photo a day at a random time chosen by the app.
Such was the case for American teenager Madison Smieja, who received her daily BeReal alert as she and her family sat in a church pew dressed in black waiting for her great-aunt’s funeral to begin. The photo, which was shared via TikTok, racked up nearly 100,000 views.
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Other viral moments included a woman posting an image of her legs in stirrups with the caption: “When your male OB [obstetrician] is opening the cervix to insert an IUD into the uterus, but BeReal says now is the time.”
Other iconic moments to be born from the app include users receiving their daily alert during a Harry Styles concert, while meeting US Vice President Kamala Harris, during a minor house fire, and even in the middle of a break up. Not exactly glamorous, but definitely very royal.
How does BeReal really work?
Created by former GoPro employee Alexis Barreya, BeReal sends users a random in-app notification telling them “It’s BeReal time” and posting their only photo of the day. All followers receive the same alert at the same time, essentially creating a massive visual check-in with friends and family.
The notification comes with a two-minute window in which a user’s phone takes a dual-sided image using a smartphone’s front and rear cameras to capture a selfie of the user and what they’re looking at or doing at the time.
Unlike other social media apps, BeReal has no filters, and since the alert time varies from day to day, it’s nearly impossible to create “perfect” content.
Gone are the immaculate flatlays, perfectly choreographed dance routines, and effortless selfies in the morning sun on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. Instead there are images of people stuck in rush hour traffic, watching TV on the couch, lying in bed with messy hair and no makeup, walking their pets, or studying.
Somewhat wildly, followers are alerted when a user has opted to take multiple images within the allotted two minutes, and if they miss their two-minute window, their post will be marked as late for their friends to see. Users can also choose to share the location of their posts, but it is not required.
If you decide to delete your initial post and return to it, you must select a reason and there can only be one delete per day in an attempt to encourage users to accept the imperfect.
How is BeReal different from other social media apps?
Where platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok operate on the currency of follower counts and engagement rates, BeReal’s success so far has come from eschewing that model and instead creating a platform that describes itself as: “Without filters. Without likes. No followers. No bulls**t. No ads. Just your friends, really.
That said, the app allows you to share your images with other social media apps, and BeReal’s content is a constant trend on TikTok and Instagram, even going so far as to feature its own BeReal-style filter.
Another important difference is how users interact with each other. While you can comment or react to another user’s photos, the app does not display the number of followers or any engagement metrics.
The ultra-minimalist interface allows users to browse others’ content via the ‘My Friends’ or ‘Discovery’ tab, but profiles don’t show past content, meaning those countless hours of wasted stalking and scrolling in other apps aren’t they can and they don’t. It doesn’t happen here.
If your snap goes viral, it stays online for only 24 hours and users get notified every time someone else snaps their picture.
Katy Hall is a freelance writer.