Written by Kenna Rose

Even though social media isn’t yet 50 years old, warnings against it have become a bipartisan concern.

But it’s also a huge part of our world, used by many people to connect and businesses to engage with their clientele. For parents especially, it can be stressful to figure out how to monitor their children’s use of social media and let’s face it, it can even be difficult for adults.

That’s why we are working on a series of articles about social media, starting with a general overview and then going more in-depth on popular apps. The first social media app we looked at was Instagram.

Our next social media platform is BeReal.

BeReal is a relatively newer social media app that has taken the world by storm. It’s a fun way for young adults to connect with their friends and post about their day without having to worry about being contacted by strangers or making everything look pristine. Like the previous articles, this post will be rather long, as I’m going in-depth.

How it Works:

BeReal opens up on its home page, which shows you pictures from your friends and any groups you are part of. The home page also lets you create a new BeReal and access your suggested friends page, your profile, and your memories.

The pictures posted to BeReal are called BeReals. Unlike other social media apps, BeReal only shows you pictures from your friends and the RealPeople (I’ll explain in a second) you follow, OR the pictures posted by your friend’s friends.

BeReal requires you to have the app notifications turned on because once a day at a random time users will get a notice that reads “⚠️ Time to BeReal. ⚠️”

Once a user receives the notice they have two minutes to open the app and press the circle at the bottom (labeled “create a new BeReal” in the above photo). A photo is then taken using both the front and back camera.

You’re only supposed to take one photo – if you retake your BeReal, the app shows this by adding a caption telling others how many times you took the photo. If you take your BeReal on time – or within those two minutes – you get the opportunity to post two other BeReals.

You can only see your friends’ BeReals if you post your own, and you can only see friends of friends BeReals if you share your BeReal with them. You can choose who to share your BeReal with by clicking on your BeReal and then clicking on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner.

Friends of Friends allows you to see BeReals posted by people who are friends with your friends, even if you aren’t friends with them through the app. It also allows them to see your BeReal.

You can interact with your friend’s BeReals by posting a reaction called a RealMoji (a picture of your facial response to their post) or by commenting. You can post a RealMoji on friends of friends posts, but you cannot comment. You can tag a friend in your BeReal, and when you do, they have the option to share it with others.

Resharing a BeReal you’re tagged in counts as one of your three BeReals if you’ve posted on time and haven’t posted the additional ones, or as an extra BeReal if you’ve posted late or already posted your extra BeReals.

The memories button opens on a calendar that shows you how many days you’ve posted a BeReal. You have the option to deactivate and delete this function in settings. Posting multiple days in a row is called a streakwhich is signified by a little fire symbol on top of the day the streak started. You can see the fire symbol on top of my profile picture.

BeReal seems to be constantly changing and moving things around. They recently added a feature called Roulette, which requires you to give BeReal access to your phone’s photo stream. The app will randomly choose a photo from your phone and post it (with your confirmation) – along with your reaction to the chosen photo taken with the front camera of the phone – as an extra BeReal.

They’ve also added a way for brands and celebrities to have their own BeReal accounts. This includes musicians, brands, schools, athletes, influencers, etc. The Discover More button allows you to search through what they term “RealPeople” and “RealBrands”  to follow.

Following RealPeople and RealBrands works slightly differently than friending a friend. The more frequently you interact with the RealPeople or RealBrands you follow, the more “perks” you get  – including exclusive content, the ability to comment on posts, and special visibility, or the ability for the brand/celebrity to see and interact with your posts.

Alongside RealPeople and RealBrands, BeReal has added RealEvents. As far as I can tell, this means they create a gallery for certain events that are happening all over the world, and people who are attending that event – either in person or virtually – can post BeReals from the event to that gallery.

At the end of the event, BeReal creates a recap video including some of the best pictures from the event.

BeReal has also added RealGroups. These operate like group chats, only they have their own timed “⚠️ Time to BeReal. ⚠️” notifications that are sent and shared solely with the members of the group.

Your BeReal profile shows your profile picture and BeReal account name, how many days your streak is, any BeReals you’ve pinned (sort of like Instagram highlights, only with a picture, not a video – you can only post three, and they’re only visible to your friends), your memories, and a link to share with others so that they can find your account on BeReal.

Clicking on the friends button will take you to a page called Suggestions, where you can find people to friend. The connections button shows you who you’re friends with and the requests button shows you who has requested to friend you.

If you connect BeReal to your contact list, it will show you which of your contacts are on BeReal.

Pros/Cons of BeReal PLUS Safety Concerns:

BeReal was created to simplify social media and remove the pressures that come with having to make your life look perfect online. Its goal is to remove the filters and be real (see how I did that?), hence the unique two-minute window to post an unfiltered picture of whatever you’re doing at the moment.

BeReal isn’t as “competitive” as other social media apps, where gaining likes and follows is a huge motivation for posting. For the most part, BeReal has stayed true to its original purpose. I think it’s a great social media app.

However, there are a few things to consider when deciding whether to download it (or allow your kid to download it).

The biggest thing to consider is privacy. Because the goal of BeReal is to take and post a photo within two minutes of the alert going off, it may be possible to accidentally include something you don’t want others to see in the photo, like a document with important information on it.

The pictures you post aren’t public, as in the case of Instagram or Facebook, but your friends and friends of friends (if you choose to share with them) might see them.

BeReal collects and stores some of the data for your phone to run the app, among other things. In the past, BeReal included a discovery page that contained photos that were posted and shared with everyone.

This meant that BeReal would keep any publicly posted photos for thirty years and had the right to do whatever they wanted with them. Their privacy policy was last updated in June 2024 and no longer contains that language.

According to BeReal’s policies, messages sent through RealGroups “are not encrypted,” meaning that BeReal can see what you’re sending. BeReal also gives you the option to share your location, although you can turn that feature off.

BeReal is unique in that you’re only going to see content from your friends, RealBrands, RealPeople, or friends of friends. Unlike Instagram, where you can see posts from people all over the world, BeReal only shows you snapshots from those you friend. It’s a lot less angry, and there is less of a chance you’ll stumble across something inappropriate – just as long as you’re careful about who you friend.

One side note: if you participate in a RealEvent, you will see pictures from everyone who has attended the event, not just friends.

The BeReal app doesn’t have any political messaging, but it offers suggestions for the types of RealGroups you could form. One suggestion is a “pride” group, but that’s the only hint of political messaging you see in the app.

BeReal sends frequent notifications unless you turn them off. Aside from  “⚠️ Time to BeReal. ⚠️,” they’ll notify you if your friends have posted, commented, or reacted. They’ll also notify you if you haven’t posted a BeReal.

The notifications capitalize on FOMO (fear of missing out) by saying things like  “Look what you’ve missed” or “Your friends have all posted.” I’ll admit that when I first downloaded the app, it caused me to look at my phone more because I didn’t want to miss the notification. That fear didn’t last, though.

BeReal is nice in that it doesn’t encourage you to keep scrolling. Once you’ve looked at your friend’s BeReals, there isn’t anything else to do, so you close the app. You can connect with your friends without getting sucked into mindless scrolling.

Something else I appreciate is that the app does seem designed to be incredibly user-friendly and to keep the user on track. They remind you to only friend people you know, and everything on their blog, including their policies, is written in a very understandable way.

A Few Helpful Things To Know:

  • You can access settings for BeReal by clicking on the three dots in the upper-right-hand corner of your profile page. The settings allow you to deactivate and delete memories, connect music, change privacy settings, and control the type of notifications you get. You can also see the users you’ve blocked or hidden.
  • BeReal gives you the option to sync with your contacts and your photo stream. You can choose whether to give the app permission to access them.
  • BeReal is constantly changing and moving things around. I’ve had the app for just over six months and within that time, they’ve added RealGroups, RealPeople and RealBrands, and RealEvents.
  • BeReal was recently purchased by a French mobile gaming company called Voodoo (the type of company that makes those basic .io game apps where you match colors or have to run a ball through an obstacle course). I believe Voodoo is hoping to find a way to monetize the platform by adding advertisements. Currently, the app isn’t making any money off of its users – and might actually be losing money, since it has to host it on a server somewhere.
  • Within the last couple of days my BeReal has started displaying advertisements for BeReal in the home page,
  • Although the initial reaction to BeReal was huge, and there are still a ton of users, there are a good amount of people leaving the app.

A Couple of Final Thoughts:

I read somewhere that a teen remarked that BeReal is her favorite social media app because she doesn’t feel gross when she’s done looking at it.

BeReal is a pretty good choice for a social media app. It’s private, and if you only friend people you’re friends with in real life, you’ll only see what they post. You can stay connected with your friends without having to worry about the factors that make most social media so concerning.

I like BeReal. I originally downloaded it with a plan to delete it once I was finished writing this article, but I like the app enough to keep it.

If you decide to download it for yourself or your child, keep in mind that the recent purchase of BeReal means something might change, so be alert while you’re being real!