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What is BeReal? Everything to know about this unfiltered social media app

BeReal aims to make social media more authentic. Here's what you need to know to get started.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
BeReal app displayed on cellphone
Image: Getty Images/NurPhoto

What is BeReal?

BeReal is a social media app that might just bring back a little bit of authenticity to our social media posts. No filters, followers, or preparation are allowed on the app. It's all about in-the-moment photos and being "real".

Also: BeReal is getting four new features, and one is going to make your post that much realer

App users receive a daily notification at a random time of the day that says "⚠️Time to BeReal⚠️". As soon as you get the notification, you have two minutes to take a selfie and a back camera photo of what you are doing at that very moment. If you choose to wait to post a picture later in the day when you look better or are doing something fun, all your friends will be able to see that you waited and aren't being real -- and where's the fun in that? 

How popular is BeReal?

BeReal was initially released in January 2020, but the app didn't skyrocket until 2022, accumulating over 56 million downloads during the year, according to The Washington Post. Out of its global audience, the app is the most popular in the United States. In July 2022, BeReal hit the number one spot on the Apple App Store in the US. 

Also: You can use AI in Instagram to generate fun backgrounds for your stories. Here's how

In January 2024, nearly two years later, BeReal ranks number 21 in the App Store in the social networking category, right behind Skype. BeReal was also reported to have 23 million daily active users as of January 2024.

How do you sign up for BeReal?

To sign up for BeReal, all you need to do is go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, download the app, and create an account. It's as simple as that. 

What is the purpose of BeReal?

Because you are required to take photos in the moment, the photos you post and see aren't retouched, edited or fabricated to show an idealized, unrealistic portrayal of a person. If done correctly, the images are an authentic representation of a person's day-to-day life. At best, it's social media but without the airbrushed, fictional curated edge.

When do BeReal notifications go off?

BeReal notifications go off once a day at different, random times for all the users. When the notification goes off, you have two minutes to post a picture. If you go past that time, your post will be marked as late, showing all your friends that you, in fact, can't actually BeReal. You also can't access your friends' BeReal or the Friends of Friends feed until you've posted yours, further incentivizing you to post. 


How do you shoot a BeReal?

Posting a BeReal is a very simple process beause the photos are meant to be as authentic as possible. All you have to do is open the app, snap a selfie with your front camera, and then a photo of your surroundings with the back camera. Within the two-minute period, you can retake the photo as many times as you'd like until you get the picture you desire. 

What do you post on BeReal?

On BeReal, you can only post photos with the two-box, front and back camera format when you are prompted. There is no option to post additional content, such as other photos, because that would take away from the "in the moment" aspect of the app. You can customize the post by adding a caption and displaying your location. 

Also: New 'BeFake' social media app encourages users to transform their photos with AI

You can also choose to share the Behind the Scenes (BTS) of your BeReal, which captures the seconds before a BeReal photo is taken and creates a video that plays on your friends' timelines when they long press on the picture you posted -- the same way a live photo works. This feature is automatically enabled, but can be disabled in settings. 

Can you gain followers on BeReal?

On BeReal, you cannot have followers. Similar to the earliest forms of social networking sites (remember AIM?), you have friends instead of followers on the app, and only these select groups of people can see your posts. This restriction takes away the pressure of feeling you have to curate a perfect public image and brings back the fun of only sharing content with your friends.

Can you react to a BeReal post?

Yes, you can react to posts, but there is an 'authentic' twist. To react, you have to click an emoji and send a photo of you doing the emoji's expression. The person whose post you are reacting to will be able to see the picture of you reacting to their post. 

Also: Bluesky now lets you view profiles and posts without logging in

If you have been tagged in a post, you can reshare it. There are a few caveats, though. If you reshare a BeReal that was shared on time, and you haven't shared one yet, you get a bonus BeReal. However, if you reshare one that was posted late, you won't be able to post your own. 

Are celebrities and brands on BeReal?

When BeReal launched, there were no official accounts on the app. However, in January, BeReal introduced "RealPeople" and "RealBrands", which are official BeReal accounts for your favorite celebrities and brands. The feature will launch on February 6. 

What happens to your BeReal after you post it?

All of your BeReals are archived for you to see. One of the best features of BeReal is being able to see a collection of your daily posts. In your memories, you will be able to see a calendar layout with your photos from every day you complete the task. 

BeReal memories

BeReal memories.

Image: Apple App Store/BeReal

Should you download BeReal?

BeReal might be the closest thing to an unvarnished social media experience. If you are constantly falling victim to FOMO or comparing yourself to others, this app might be a good alternative for you. BeReal is a way to keep up with what your friends are doing while also allowing you to authentically document your day-to-day life. However, if you don't want to commit to posting every day, this app may not be for you.

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