(NEXSTAR) – As other social media networks make changes to their algorithms to compete with TikTok or combat misinformation, a completely new app is quickly gaining users. I became one of those new users when I downloaded the app last week.
BeReal calls itself “the simplest photo sharing app.” The French-developed social media platform promises to ward off influencer content and embrace authenticity. The app doesn’t have any appearance-enhancing filters, and its developer warns it “won’t make you famous.”
“If you want to become an influencer, you can stay on TikTok and Instagram,” the description reads.
BeReal ranked No. 1 on Apple’s App Store for free apps Tuesday morning – ahead of TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
Here’s how it works: Once a day, you get a notification prompting you to open the app. Then, you have exactly two minutes to snap a photo. The app simultaneously captures pictures from your phone’s front and back cameras and creates a split image showing both views.
Once the timer is up, you can see your friend’s daily posts and comment on them – but only if you have uploaded a picture yourself.
If you miss the notification and the two-minute window, you can still post late, but your photo will bear a clear timestamp showing you did so.
The result? The BeReal website shows people snowboarding down mountains, camping in forests and eating towering cones of soft-serve ice cream. But my personal feed, filled with only a few of my friends who have downloaded the app, is consistently filled with pictures of us working at our desks – given that the app alerts you one time during the day, and we all work day jobs.
You can also scroll through the app’s “Discovery” tab, which, when I opened it Tuesday morning, showed me someone boating off Cape Cod, a guy drinking coffee in Tijuana and a woman waiting to go through security at an Italian airport. All of those are more varied and visually appealing than my friends’ mix of content (no offense to my friends), but the app also shows all the photos are posted late. They may have waited to post the picture until they were doing something more interesting than typing away at work or sitting on the toilet. But not my friends – they’re keeping it real (for better or worse).