What is BeReal, this French app that is a hit in the United States?

A selfie and a photo of your environment at a different time each day… This is the principle of BeReal, a social network created by two French people, which promises an experience without filters, far from the veneer of Instagram.

Launched in 2020, the platform has been a hit for a few months, in particular among Generation Z, born between the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2010s. It totals nearly 35 million downloads, according to data provided by the specialized firm data .have. BeReal was even at the beginning of September the most downloaded mobile application in the United States (iOS and Google Play combined) and was in the top 3 in France and the United Kingdom.

A platform that focuses on authenticity

This new social network, created by Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau, trained at billionaire Xavier Niel’s “42” computer coding school, presents itself as an anti-Instagram application. Upon receiving the daily notification, users have two minutes to launch the app and photograph their location. Their friends can react by mimicking emojis like a thumbs up, a surprised pout or a hilarious face.

According to Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies, the attraction for BeReal comes precisely from a need for authenticity in response to the overly perfect images of a network like Instagram. “People are tired of perfectly smooth portraits that don’t reflect real life,” says the analyst. “For Gen Zers, this seems like fertile ground given that they want to show who they are, what their life is really like and how they’re doing,” she adds.

Doubts about privacy management

It remains to be seen whether BeReal will be able to register for the long term or will only be a flash in the pan, as seems to think Jennifer Stromer-Galley, professor at the school of information sciences of the university of Syracuse (State from New York). “There is no clear reason to stay there beyond the voyeurism of observing other people’s life experiences,” said the academic.

The application also raises questions about the management of the privacy of its users. “Let’s say the rear camera shows a friend, your children, the place where you live or your desk or your computer screen”, imagines Jennifer Stromer-Galley, who wonders about the use that could be made of these data from hackers or stalkers.

For the time being, BeReal continues in any case to intrigue. Instagram has developed a prototype with similar functionality, but said it is not currently in the testing phase.

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