What is BeReal? Privacy concerns and things to know

Anton P. | November 15, 2022

BeReal claims to be the antidote of social media, fostering unfiltered users’ photos. Overall, BeReal is safe when you double-check privacy settings and recipients of your photos.

Despite promising authenticity in all BeReal posts, it still is a social media app. So, you should know which information it collects to determine whether BeReal privacy is suitable.

What is BeReal?

The BeReal app is a social media platform without influencers, curated feeds, filters, or options to post anytime. It promotes the idea of realness, mitigating staged and photoshopped posts.

While more authenticity on the BeReal app is evident, self-presentation and aesthetics are important everywhere. People tend to put their best foot forward online and may only post on BeReal if the time is right.

Furthermore, replacing one photo-sharing app with another does not necessarily constitute healthy social media usage. It might be healthier, but problematic nonetheless.

Created by French founders Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau, BeReal first emerged in 2020 but gained momentum in 2022.

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How does BeReal work?

Here are some facts about BeReal and how it works:

  • The appeal of BeReal posts is that people share unguarded, random, and authentic images.
  • You automatically add photos from the front and back camera. So people can see your reaction or facial expression together with the main photo.
  • After BeReal allows you to post a photo, you only have a two-minute window.
  • The time frame should prevent users from fabricating or staging their images too much.
  • If you decide against posting a photo after receiving a push notification, you won’t see others’ unfiltered snapshots.
  • If you post photos later, your friends will receive alerts about you being less honest.
  • BeReal does notify people when users take screenshots of their posts. You can find such details via a square-like box under or above photos.

What personal information does BeReal collect?

The spontaneous photo-sharing app is still a part of the social media bubble. And social media apps are one of the most data-hungry apps. Thus, like any other app, it still collects significant personal data.

Since the BeReal app does not offer subscriptions, in-app purchases or ads, users wonder about its business model. The app owners claim that it makes money through investments.

BeReal usually collects the following data about its users:

  • Names.
  • IP addresses.
  • Number of friends and invitations,
  • Comments left on content.
  • Dates of birth.
  • Phone numbers.
  • Email addresses.
  • Transaction data.
  • Data from phone camera.
  • Geo-location.
  • Photos stored on phones.

One potential red flag is that BeReal captures users’ highly-accurate locations through coordinates. Also, the geo-location might get attached to posts if enabled.

  1. BeReal owns posted photos for 30 years

In BeReal terms of usage, the company explains that each user grants a 30-year license to content posted on the platform.

Essentially, the company and other BeReal users have the following permissions:

  • People can reproduce and share other users’ photos on social media platforms like Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • BeReal can store, host, reproduce, adapt, modify, publish, edit, distribute and sublicense its users’ content.

Knowing that BeReal wants users to be genuine and authentic, some snaps might be somewhat embarrassing. However, such conditions explain that BeReal can use photos meant for your friends for their marketing.

  1. BeReal users might open offensive posts

BeReal describes itself as a hosting company in its terms of use. Thus, it claims to have no general obligation to monitor the information they store.

In other words, it does not moderate the shared posts. However, users can report potentially inappropriate content.

  1. Two-minute window for posting might lead to oversharing

Users usually polish their photos and posts before releasing them on Instagram and Facebook. While it likely creates curated feeds and fake personas online, it has one advantage.

People have time to carefully remove certain information, blur addresses, or examine the mirror reflection.

Posting a photo on BeReal is now or never for that day. Thus, people might get hasty, uploading photos with compromising backgrounds. In other cases, they might unintentionally reveal personal information visible in photos.

  1. Third-party cookies within the BeReal app

The privacy policy of the BeReal app mentions the usage of third-party cookies. So, the app contributes to tracking and advertising strategies like retargeting.

Furthermore, it does state to share data that users have licensed to the company with third parties. That includes all the posts you have made.

Is BeReal worth the hype?

The BeReal app is the latest innovation in social media, and it claims to foster real connections. However, the BeReal privacy conditions resemble any other social platform.

Thus, you won’t escape the deep-rooted tracking online. Furthermore, knowing BeReal gets a 30-year license to content, specific posts can come back to haunt users.

Nevertheless, BeReal is an option for reducing screen time and fleeing more toxic environments like Instagram. The key is to know precisely what you get with BeReal privacy and its other terms of use.

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Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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