Ask Trish: BeReal

“I’ve seen the app BeReal become really popular in the last two years. What is it and is it in?”

Mar 12, 2024

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By Trisha Prabhu

“I’ve seen the app BeReal become really popular in the last two years. What is it and is it in?”

Hi there, and welcome back to another week of Ask Trish! I hope you’re all having a wonderful start to March.

Thanks so much to this week’s question-er for the fantastic question. Indeed, the social media platform BeReal really has come a long way from where it was when it first launched several years ago. I often see people sharing BeReal content on staple social media platforms like Instagram! So what’s the fuss about? And is BeReal still super #hype? In this post, I’ll give you the low-down: I’ll briefly take you through 1) what BeReal is, 2) how it works, and 3) how relevant it remains today. Sound good? Let’s get into it.

First of all, what is BeReal? BeReal is a French photo-sharing app founded in 2020. When it launched it was pitched as an alternative to Instagram: where Insta was the place for sharing carefully edited, curated videos, BeReal was supposed to be just that — real. This was the place where you could share more authentic, real content, including those bad hair days or just average moments. By mid-2020, the app had really taken off: it was the #1 most popular app on the App Store worldwide. It especially took off on college campuses (I was there; I remember!)

But what makes BeReal so different? How does it actually work? Why would you be “real” on this app, in particular? Well, it’s because of how BeReal engages users. Rather than post at any time during the day, BeReal prompts users once a day (at random times) to post exactly what they’re doing then (the notification reads: “It’s time to BeReal.”) When a user opens up the app, a 2-minute timer starts, giving the user just a brief window within which to take a picture of what they’re doing. The idea is to capture and share life as it authentically is. To up the ante, the app also tells other users if you were late to post (which may mean that you waited for a more “shareable” moment) or if you retake your photo (which isn’t quite as authentic! Of course, only chosen friends can see what you share on the app). There are also no filters! In addition to its focus on authenticity, BeReal is distinguished by the pictures themselves: when you take the photo, the app takes a picture using both the front and back camera, so people can see you and what’s happening around you.

So is BeReal still a #bigdeal? Where is it now? Should you hop on the train? In fact, over the last year, the app’s popularity has come tumbling down: downloads are down, and users aren’t using the app as regularly as they used to. There are a lot of reasons why. Many Gen Z-ers (including several of my friends) felt that the pressure to post on time every single day was far too much. Scholars and critics have also noted that authentic, real life is not quite as engaging…it is (by definition) mundane. It’s what we do every day…and that doesn’t capture our attention as much as, say, a very edited picture of a friend on a beach vacation. Indeed, the fall of BeReal raises questions about to what extent the internet really can support and encourage authenticity. In that spirit, many users have noted that they’re not sure that the content is much more real at all, given that a lot of users skirt the rules and post late or retake pictures. (So much for authenticity!) And it’s also worth noting that BeReal is a relatively new social media app…and new apps are often big hits or big misses.

With all of that said, there’s no reason you still shouldn’t get a BeReal (so long as you follow all of my other advice re: safely using social media J)! Plenty of Gen Z-ers and other young people continue to use it, delighting in (at least what feel like) more real photos. On BeReal, you can make your morning cup of coffee or your unmade bed content — and if that’s something you want to do, you should!

I hope that that was a helpful intro to BeReal! And now, as always, before I sign off…I’d like to make my weekly request to ask all of you to share any of your thoughts, questions, or concerns about the Internet here. Legit takes 30 seconds…no lie. So what are you waiting for? Submit away! I can’t wait to hear from you. Oh, and one last thing – don’t forget to give our Ask Trish videos some love on social media. Like the videos, comment on them, and share them with your friends! Thanks so much in advance for spreading the #AskTrish word!

Have a great week,



This week, Trish digs into the social media platform BeReal, which is designed to be a more genuine, authentic version of Instagram. How does the app work? And is it still popular amongst youth? Get the scoop in this week’s post — link in bio ⬆️⬆️

♬ original sound – Ask Trish

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