A new social media app has arrived on campus and encourages students to show their lives unfiltered.
Unlike typical social media platforms which can be organized and edited, BeReal users take an unorganized snapshot of their day no matter what they are doing – whether they are studying, partying or even using the room of bath.
The application sends all its users a synchronized notification at a random time of the day. Then, users have a two-minute window to photograph everything they do before their post is considered “overdue.” Until users post their own BeReal, they cannot see their friends’ posts.
BeReal simultaneously captures images from a phone’s front and rear cameras, providing a view of both the poster’s face and their surroundings.
Founded in 2020 by French entrepreneurs Kevin Perreau and Alexis BarreyatBeReal first established itself in France and later expanded its user base only to the United States, according to Mashable reports. The app is meant to showcase “life…without filters,” according to its description in Apple’s App Store.
James Dahlen ’23 said he downloaded the app after seeing his friends receive a notification at a party asking them to pick up their BeReal.
“The notification came and (everyone) started shouting (at the party). They showed me the app and I scrolled down the app and downloaded it,” he said.
He said it was a “strangely reassuring thing to see” that most of the time his friends weren’t doing anything special.
“People don’t lie about what they do,” added Becca Ward-Diorio ’23, who said she downloaded the app after hearing her friends talk about it. She finds using the platform “fun” so far, though she says she still picks up on its nuances, such as a feature that allows users to react to their friends’ posts with selfies.
She also added that the full-face shots catch her “off guard.” Still, she noted that she only follows her friends on the app, so there’s “nobody (her) trying to show off.”
If changes were to be made to the app, Cecile Schreidah ’24 said she would like the ability to take videos, while Dahlen said he would like to manage his feed better, putting his close friends at the top. .
The three students interviewed by The Herald said they believe BeReal will never replace the biggest photo-based social media apps like Instagram or Snapchat.
BeReal “kind of earned a spot in my social media rotation suite,” Dahlen added.
BeReal has hired academic ambassadors on campuses across the United States to expand its user base in the country, according to Schreidah, who says she was personally recruited by the company as an ambassador.
BeReal declined to comment on its growth or recruitment on college campuses in an email to the Herald, though BeReal’s website has a page describing a paid college ambassador program. Schreidah said she was contacted by an app ambassador via Instagram direct messages in June 2021. The ambassador encouraged Schreidah to promote BeReal at Brown through monetary incentives: for each person she referred the application, she would receive $30. Each person who downloaded the app and sent a notice to Schreidah would in turn receive $50.
“I thought it was a scam,” Schreidah said. Still, Schreidah thought it was worth a try, so she made a list of people to contact on campus and posted information about the incitement on her Snapchat story. Schreidah then sent a standardized message to those who expressed interest, telling them how to download the app and send her a review.
“I only recruited about ten students,” she said. These ten students received a $50 Venmo or PayPal transfer from BeReal, according to Schreidah. After about a month of work, Schreidah said she stopped being an ambassador for the app and quickly took it down. Few students used it at the time, and even those with accounts usually forgot to post.
After the summer’s lack of interest, Schreidah said she was “really shocked” that the app had become a “huge” trend on campus. Yet she refuses to re-upload it, citing the time she already spends on social media.
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“I feel like all of these apps have an expiration date,” Schreidah said. “After a while, kids might get used to it.”