BeReal Basics: How to Use an “Unfiltered” Social Media App

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French social. media platform launched by Alexis Barreat in 2020, Be real is attracting loyal users on US college campuses after gaining popularity abroad. Essentially, BeReal sends users a request at a random time every day, encouraging them to take a picture and send it to their friends. You only have two minutes to respond and a two-image collage will be captured from your front and rear cameras.

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The pristine, carefully curated aesthetic of Instagram has been declared dead multiple times, and BeReal capitalizes on the constant search for authenticity on social media, whatever that means. The company has received millions of dollars from investors such as Andreessen Horowitza well-known player in Silicon Valley who has invested in Clubhouse, OpenSea and Substack in recent years.

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In February, Harvard student Mariah Norman spoke about photo dumps on Instagram is outdated so mainstream that the president does it. She was captivated by BeReal’s unfiltered feed and wrote, “Because you don’t have time to search for the perfect pose or background, the content you interact with on the app is charmingly mundane yet extraordinarily authentic and creative.” Norman also mentioned that BeReal sponsored a free admission party for Harvard students who interacted with the app.

Jules Kurelakos, Duke University student indicated that while BeReal seems less effective than other social media options, users continue to film a staged version of themselves. While searching for authenticity online can be fruitless, the app is well designed and easy to pick up.

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You need an account to get started with BeReal, which is available for iPhone and Android. Once you download the app, it will ask you to access your contacts in order to connect with friends who may already be using the service (you can opt out if you want). If your Rolodex isn’t filled with trendsetters, many of your friends may not be using the platform yet. The app will ask for your name, date of birth, and phone number. Leaving time-sensitive notifications is essential if you want to post for two minutes a day.

When setting up an account, BeReal encourages new users to make their first post right away. Your posting each day is paid for by viewing photos of friends or posts in the Discovery Feed. Don’t want to publish? Well, you will have to spend time on another app, because all the photos will not be available on BeReal until you make a deposit for the day. Users are allowed to share timestamped photos after the window has passed, but all images are treated as belated homework, with a “15 minutes late” disclaimer flaunting on top.

To create a post, the app needs access to your smartphone’s cameras. After flipping the camera to see both sides, use the reverse button and turn on the flash, touch the lightning if necessary, press the circle at the bottom middle of the screen to take photos. Even for the later BeReals, a two-minute timer is displayed on the screen, which counts down the time while you take (or retake) pictures.

You can choose an audience for your photos, whether the post is published to the global feed or only friends see it. Your location will be included in the post unless you turn it off. Users can delete a post after it is published, but only one deletion per day is allowed. Once the message is online, you can add a signature.

Your friends can comment and leave Real Mojis on your BeReals; strangers in the discovery feed are limited to RealMojis. Unlike TikTok or Instagram, content is erased from the feed every day and replaced with the next batch of posts. Users have the ability to save past posts through the Memories features, and old images are not public.

I have disabled my location for privacy reasons and I urge anyone trying BeReal to avoid posting potentially sensitive content, especially if you have settings open to the public. Random snapshots can still compromise your privacy.

On BeReal, what could easily turn into an alarming time trial is cleverly turned into a low-stakes publishing experience. For example, only a certain number of retakes are possible within 120 seconds, so I felt less internal pressure to capture a flattering selfie.

Most of the photos I took during the week of testing included some kind of screen. BeReal caught me streaming a classic episode sponge Bob Square Pantsreading about batteries for electric vehicles on a laptop, playing Pikmin 3 Deluxeand work on this article from home. Several users were away while I was scrolling through the discovery feed, having lunch with family members, or hiding in a back room at work. Different people looked at the screens, just like me: studied on the MacBook, played fortnitebrowsing routes on iPhone, watching Netflix in bed, listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Currently, BeReal handles campus press. The company employs a marketer Emily Morawitzwho previously helped lead the student ambassador program for the dating app. Bumble. The goal of the field events, strategically located on college campuses, is to build a young, engaged user base for the app in North America, which then expands to a wider audience.

The early hype continues to grow, though BeReal has yet to prove its resilience. When I was at the University of Kansas, I went to a drunken party for a hot alternative social media platform, roamed the house with a few branded cuzis and a new app on my phone. Yik Yak, which allowed people to read anonymous messages from users nearby, shut down a few years later due to a wave of controversy. Zombie version of the app restarted in 2021.

Where Yik Yak exudes toxicity, BeReal seems like a safe haven, at least for now. If you convince a couple of friends to get involved, the app can be fun. BeReal is a social media experience that doesn’t feel like a competition for maximum exposure. Enjoy the ride. Even if it doesn’t last forever, you can have a good time enjoying the banality.


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