BeReal encourages users to be more authentic without preparation and without filter

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Facebook and Instagram make room: there is a newer photo sharing app, and it is not like other social media platforms.

The program is called BeReal . And although you haven’t heard of it yet, many young people are already using it. Active monthly users have soared this year by more than 315%, according to data from Apptopia, which tracks and analyzes app performance.

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THE CNN entered the app and chatted with users to better understand how BeReal works and what you need to know about it.

So what is BeReal?

BeReal is a social media app that encourages users to share a part of their life in real time. It was launched in early 2020 by a businessman in France, but the majority of its users — at least 65% — have joined the app this year.

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As its name suggests, the focus is on authenticity. Users are invited once a day to share a photo of what they are doing at that moment, giving friends and others a clear view of their lives.

It has no filters or editing buttons. So if your hair is a mess right now and your view is of a rainy parking lot, this is what people will see.

The result is a far cry from the polished, overly filtered photos that are popular on other platforms.

How it works?

The concept of BeReal is simple. After downloading the app, you receive a notification once a day that it’s time to “BeReal”. That means you have two minutes to snap and post a picture of what you’re doing, no matter how trivial.

There is no set time, the notification comes at random times of the day, adding to the mystique surrounding the app.

“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 that shows your life can open at any moment. When this happens, the app invites you to take a picture of what you are doing at that moment. He takes a double photo—one selfie and one showing what’s in front of him. BeReal does not yet allow videos.

The result is a social feed full of unedited photos of people doing mostly everyday, unglamorous things — lounging in their pajamas, doing homework, riding the bus, heating dinner in the microwave.

With just one post a day, there aren’t a million photos of friends to go by without thinking. You can only see friends’ posts if you share a photo, which eliminates those who just want to see without sharing.

Some people disable location for privacy reasons as the app works in real time.

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

“What I like about BeReal is that I’m able to make connections with my friends through social media on a platform that doesn’t encourage likes, comments or being artificial. […] just show your friends what you’re doing when the daily alert goes off,” says Telerski, who is doing a master’s in governance.

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

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

What happens if you don’t post within two minutes?

When you click on BeReal’s daily notification, your camera opens within the app along with a timer with a two-minute countdown. You even have time to take a picture of what’s in front of you. At the same time, your other camera takes a selfie.

The app will share both images. You can redo them anytime during the two minutes and share them with friends when you’re ready.

BeReal also allows users to take the photo and post it at the end of the day, but let your friends know how many hours after the notification you posted. In short, it exposes you for your lack of spontaneity.

Why are people using it?

BeReal took advantage of marketing in campuses College students. It recruits youth through its university ambassador program, which allows students to host events that educate others about the app.

Telerski believes the app is popular because it’s an antidote to the pressures to look perfect online.

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

Morgan Nott, 26, runs a tea house in Reno, Nevada, and is new to the app. She started using it last week at the suggestion of a friend. Nott says she finds it refreshing to have an unretouched, unidealized glimpse into other people’s lives.

“It’s his authenticity that makes him so attractive. Users aren’t as glamorized or fake as some might portray themselves on other platforms,” she says. “It’s something different.”

In a statement, BeReal says its goal is to create “an alternative to addictive social networks” that focus on accumulating influence.

“BeReal is your chance to show your friends who you really are,” explains the company. “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 doesn’t give you much time to put on makeup or stage the environment before taking and posting pictures.

But some users may still try to organize their lives for the app.

“There is the potential to be as artificial on BeReal as people tend to be on other platforms,” says Telerski. Some people might ignore the notification to post at a certain time and wait to post until they’re dressed up and heading out to dinner with friends, he argues.

“That’s not the spirit of BeReal and it completely defeats the purpose,” he complains. “BeReal should be full of pictures of (people) walking around, doing their chores and homework and sitting in bed watching Netflix.”

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

Nott considers continuing to let his guard down on BeReal — and continuing to post on other social media platforms as well.

Telerski, meanwhile, tries to maintain a certain level of authenticity on social media, regardless of platform. Authenticity is determined by a person, not an app, he adds.

“For those who think that we need a new social media app to be truly authentic, maybe we should take this as a signal to be more authentic on the social networks we are present on,” he says.

“Think of what social media was originally intended for — real connection through family and friends following your life. Maybe we should go back to that.”

Source: CNN Brasil

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