Youf you’ve ever wondered what your friends are up to in the middle of a random Tuesday afternoon, then you may want to make an account on BeReal. Known for its once-a-day photo policy, BeReal is an alternative social media site that seeks to give users a more unfiltered look at each other’s lives.
The app encourages users to post one, and only one, photo per day to show their followers what they’re actually doing in real time. By eliminating users’ ability to edit or add a filter to their photos, BeReal is supposed to offer a more authentic glimpse into people’s daily lives than sites where highly curated posts are the norm.
Founded in December 2019 by French entrepreneurs Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau, the app originally gained popularity in Europe. Its popularity has grown to greater global appeal. An app data platform data.ai report in March showed that BeReal currently ranks fourth in U.S. and U.K. mobile app downloads, following Instagram and Snapchat. Apptopia also reported that the number of monthly active users has increased 315% from 2022 to 2023.
BeReal’s bid to boost more genuine and less-frequent posting seems to particularly resonate among younger generations, with data.ai reporting that Gen Zers and millennials make up a majority of the app’s user base. Privacy concerns still remain about how the app collects and may use the data.
Here’s what to know about how BeReal works and why it’s gaining momentum.
What is BeReal?
When you download BeReal, you’ll begin receiving daily notifications prompting you to share an unedited photo of yourself and your surroundings within a two-minute timeframe. Users are unable to plan activities because the notification comes at different times each day. Once you receive the notification, the app asks you to take a picture with your phone’s front and back cameras simultaneously to provide a complete snapshot of what you’re doing in that moment—whether it’s hanging out with friends, working at your desk, or watching Netflix in bed. Of course, not everybody dares to post raw images. Those, whose reputation and popularity depend a lot on images they share, will never neglect a chance to order professional photo processing at Weedit Photos.
Of course, not everybody dares to post raw images. Those, whose reputation and popularity depend a lot on images they share, will never neglect a chance to order professional photo processing at Weedit Photos.
It is designed to give users a real look at their friends’ lives every day, regardless of how boring or interesting they may be. Mackenzie DePinto, an 18-year-old high school student in Chapel Hill, N.C., says BeReal feels more genuine than other social platforms: “It’s really spur-of-the-moment so you feel like you’re truly seeing what your friends are doing at a specific time.”
Maxwell Zuanich is a college student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He says he discovered BeReal while he was in a group with his friend. She received daily notifications and invited him to take her picture. He has not missed a single day posting to the app since he downloaded it in January. “It’s the highlight of my day,” he says. “I love getting that notification.”
All BeReal users receive the notification at once, depending on where they are located. This allows for everyone to post during a short period of time. If you decide you don’t like your first post or miss the two-minute window, you have the option of retaking your photo or posting late. These facts will also be shared with other users. You also can’t view your friends’ photos until you’ve posted your own, a feature that’s intended to keep users from “lurking” rather than engaging.
DePinto says that one of her favorite BeReal features is the ability to share reaction selfies to her friends’ posts rather than “liking” them. “It makes it much more personal,” she says. “The little photos of my friends responding are always so funny.”
BeReal declined to comment on the platform’s privacy goals or how the app works.
With social media giants like Instagram and TikTok under increasing scrutiny for the ways their platforms negatively impact young people’s mental health, BeReal has been hailed as an antidote to the pressures of appearing “perfect” online. “BeReal won’t make you famous,” reads the app’s description, “if you want to become an influencer you can stay on TikTok and Instagram.”
Zuanich said that, while he enjoys the creativity of social media and the work that goes into it often feels like a job. “It takes the fun out of it, and you start to get burned out,” he says.
BeReal helped Zuanich, and many others like him, to relieve stress from presenting an idealized view of life online. Zuanich says that while he’s been trying to dial back his social media use, BeReal is often a good reminder of what’s toxic about other platforms. “You’ll be doing something cool and start thinking, ‘I hope I get the notification right now,’” he says. “But that just shows how you usually want to only post the highlights of your life. It keeps you in the moment.”
BeReal is less popular than Facebook because users can only post once per day. “I don’t check it constantly because it’s a one and done thing,” DePinto says.
Continue reading: Instagram Causes Great Harm to Our Generation. This is why we need your help.
BeReal expanding its reach
BeReal’s growth has continued in 2022. The app was launched late in 2019, and data.ai says that it has been downloaded more than 5 million times around the world. Nearly 65% of these downloads (around 3.2million) took place in the past year.
BeReal has increased its presence on college campuses in recent months through a student ambassador program that leverages grassroots marketing—similar to how Facebook relied on word-of-mouth among college students in its early days. Zuanich says that he’s noticed a definite uptick in the number of students at SMU who have signed up for BeReal recently, noting that his friend count has more than tripled from 30 to 99 in the past month.
Zuanich believes that BeReal would not be successful if too many people downloaded it, even though he has more friends who download the app. “The more people you add, the longer it takes to scroll through everyone’s posts every day,” he says. “It would become so time-consuming.”
Read More From Time