BeReal and the Doomed Quest for Online Authenticity

4 days ago 14

On its ascent to the coveted top spot in app store charts, BeReal—the French photo-sharing app launched in 2020—has been heralded as the antidote to social media fakery. Staving off canny staging and slick curation, BeReal gives users just two minutes following a prompt to submit a dual front-camera/back-camera image. Only after posting their own BeReal are users able to view their friends’ dual image montages of “the moment and the reaction,” sans filters and FaceTune.

Performativity-shaming is baked into the app’s design: If someone misses the two-minute deadline or retakes a shot, their friends are tipped off that they haven’t been real.

In pitching itself as “not another social network,” BeReal’s rebuff of other platforms is as unabashed as it is irreverent. Its App Store description, for instance, reroutes fame-seeking aspirants to competitors with a faux-taunt: “If you want to become an influencer you can stay on TikTok and Instagram.” The ur-narrative is that other platforms are magnets for shallow performativity and inauthenticity—a portrayal wh...

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