TikTok likes to boast about their billion plus users worldwide, but they are facing a new competitor that’s growing in popularity. In many ways, the BeReal sells itself as the antidote to traditional social media.
Instead of posting only old vacation photos or one of the 100 selfies you took when your makeup was flawless, BeReal says it encourages authenticity by asking everyone to post at the same time no matter what they’re doing.
But some users say they don’t see much of a difference between BeReal and the other apps.
Here’s how BeReal works:
Users get a push notification at a different time each day telling them it’s “Time to BeReal.” At that point a timer starts to tick down, giving you just two minutes to post. The app takes front and back photos, in-camera with no edits, no filters. The only way to see everyone else’s photos is to post your own.
But some users have discovered workarounds that allow them to “cheat” that two-minute rule so they can do exactly what the app is trying to avoid – stage their shots and curate their lives.
One strategy is to swipe out of the app. That restarts the timer so you can retake your photos. It also allows users to post their photos late, although the app will display how late they were taken.
Some BeReal users say the ability to post late is making the app anything but real.
“I know that a lot of my friends would be like, ‘Oh, let's wait until we go out to dinner to post,’ and then wait until we're with our friends or on a boat or somewhere fun,” said Kelsi Smith, who uses BeReal.
“A lot of people take those pictures and then post them on Instagram or TikTok, and so I feel like it's not as real as it's supposed to be,” she said.
Another BeReal user, Sophie Lussiez, said, “For long periods of time I wouldn't really do anything. And showcasing that kind of was difficult when you would see other people who, like, were in real time doing more fun things.”
“If anything, it can feel worse,” she added.
BeReal declined an interview request, but provided a fact sheet that read in part:
“We want to make people feel good about themselves and their lives. We want an alternative to addictive social networks fueling social comparison...” It also claims, “BeReal won’t let you cheat.”
“It's my opinion that it's neither better nor worse than any other social media app… I don't see any of the features of BeReal, you know, promoting safety in terms of our interactions with our peers,” said Katherine Keyes, a Ph.D. and epidemiology professor at Columbia University.
Some users, however, say they enjoy the platform and like that they have the option to post late so they can take creative and fun photos.
“It's really for the comedy of it or the joy of it. I mean, me and my friend Alyssa, we've planned some of our BeReals, but it's only been so we can create a really funny image and share some special moments with other people,” said Broedy Geary.
Susie Moore, confidence coach and author of "Stop Checking Your Likes" said, “if you're enjoying social media, wonderful. It's free. It's an incredible resource. The connectivity is fun.”
“You just want to give it that dose of perspective and know that nothing happens without you being in the driver's seat and make sure that every ounce of your time and attention brings you a return.”