It is interesting to think about how social media has changed our world. We have grown from corded wall phones, to flip phones to now mini computers we carry around with us everywhere we go. It isn’t enough for society to have instant conversations through emails, text or phone calls, but we need to share our daily activities through an app using pictures, videos and captions. Gone are the disposable kodak film cameras and in are the kodak film filters to make your iphone selfie look ‘vintage’. With the use of great lighting and precise movements, someone could be using a filter to change their face shape, hair color, eye color, lip size and so much more. Influencers are not influencing honestly, society has molded and shaped a reality that is fake and inhuman. No one wants to share their insecurities; they would rather mask them with technology and paint a picture that is not real life.
With this being said, we are being introduced to a new app that forces you to share your insecurities. No more being able to take 50 photos and choose the best one, and most of all no filters. The social media application, BeReal, was introduced in December 2019 by Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau. The popularity grew overseas as the French creators launched BeReal, and now it is spreading world wide. This app pushes users to share who they are in the moment, with no addons, and now it is among the latest trending social media apps.
Move over Emoji….
So how does BeReal work? Once the app is downloaded, you have the opportunity to make a public or private profile. If your profile is made public, just like Instagram or TikTok, your image each day gets shared to an explore page for the public to interact with. If shared just with friends, the image populates in a feed for your friends to see each day. The app was built to display transparency in just about every way. Instead of choosing an emoji to respond with when looking at a post, you reply using what the app calls a RealMoji. This presents you with the same basic reaction emojis that you see on any other social media app, you choose which emoji you want to respond with and you are then prompted to recreate that emoji with your own photograph, your own face
BeReal and Transparency
Each day at a random time you will be alerted by the app that it is time to post a BeReal for the day. Once you open the alert and navigate into the app you have 2 minutes and 2 minutes only to take a photo of what you are doing at that moment. The transparency doesn’t end there. Not only are you taking a selfie of yourself or maybe a photo of the activity you are currently doing, but you take two photos. One photo is from your front facing camera and the other is from your back facing camera. So you are posting a full representation of where you are and what you are doing. You can retake your photo as many times before the 2 minutes are up, but be wary because everyone on the app (if your profile is public or friends if your profile is private) can see just how many times you re-took your photo. Once you begin posting, only you can go back and see the previous posts you’ve made. If you don’t want to post one day, that’s okay don’t post. But if you don’t post, you won’t be able to see your friends BeReals for the day.
What About Safety?
Of course BeReal has some questionable features as well. If you make your profile public, there is no end to who could see your photo or what reaction they could send you via Realmoji. This opens up the normal social media downfall of trolling and bullying. But posting publicly, you have no clue who is seeing your posts which opens up the door to someone taking screenshots of your content. Similarly to Snapchat, BeReal will show exactly who has screenshotted your post, but that doesn’t delete it from their device. Another questionable feature of BeReal is the reporting. There is no currently available option to report a post with specific detail, you are just prompted with the simple ‘it’s undesirable’ or ‘it’s inappropriate’. Just like any other social media website/application it is almost virtually impossible to moderate the content being shared, so you have the possibility of seeing explicit/inappropriate content shared by the public.
Saving the best feature for last, BeReal (similarly to Snapchat) has a geotagging feature. As long as the app has access to your location settings, it will share your EXACT location on a map immediately with your post. With the setup of this app, you can not post an experience later when you get home and tag your previous location. You are sharing within a two minute window exactly where you are. This is a very large safety concern for many users, and for many parents of younger users.
So what does this mean for investigators? This is another app to be keeping your eyes on when looking into a subject. You can search for specific people through BeReal, but the catch is that you can only see people’s content if you post yourself. Usually within investigations, you are wanting to capture something from someone’s online presence. Since the app is only available on an android or iPhone, capturing a post without being seen is difficult due to their screenshotting feature. It has been posted online that there is no way for users to know if you have taken a screen recording of someone’s post, which proves to be helpful for investigators but a slight safety issue for the users. So what do you think? Is BeReal setting a standard for the future of social media? Only time will tell.