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What is BeReal? A Social Media App Demanding Transparency

It feels like years ago (even though it was mere months) that a lone sorority sister darted up and down each floor of our sorority house recruiting our sisters to create BeReal accounts. Her pleas were met with collective groans of, “Another social media outlet?”

“But this one’s different,” she insisted.

“Ok, what’s the point?”, we asked.

To answer that question right off the bat, the “point” of BeReal is to showcase your “real self” by solely allowing “spur of the moment” posts. The app aims to catch its users unawares at random points throughout the day. The only way to post on the app is by receiving a notification from the app inviting you to post a selfie with your smart phone’s front facing camera, and another photo using the opposite lens revealing your “POV.” The app allows its users to retake photos before posting them, however the app reveals how many times the user retook their photos in order to dissuade users from attempting another pose, look, or angle.

The app gives its users two minutes to open the app and post their photos. If a user does not complete the task in time, the post is labeled “late,” allowing followers to come to their own conclusions as to why. Perhaps the user’s phone was on “Do not disturb”, or they don't check their phone as often as timely posters. On the other hand, this label welcomes suspicion on whether the user moved to a more exciting location, sought better lighting, or met up with friends so as not to appear lonely, etc.

BeReal gives users the option to react to their friends’ posts with their own selfies. They must be taken the moment the user sees the post they’re reacting to, because each post disappears from public view within 24 hours, remaining visible to its creator alone. This welcomes a discourse of expression among friends. This kind of casual engagement takes t