New social media app ‘BeReal’ is gaining traction among UI students

The BeReal social media platform is making its way onto the University of Iowa campus. The app has been around since 2020, but students have started to be drawn to the app’s push for authenticity.

Grace Kreber

The BeReal application is seen on Sunday, February 27, 2022.

In a world of social media promoting selected images and likes, the social media app BeReal is gaining popularity among students at the University of Iowa.

First-year Isabelle Paulsen only has 15 friends on the app and has had it for three to four months.

She said she only connects with her close friends on the app. She encouraged her siblings to get it so she can see what goes on in their daily lives when she can’t be in contact with them as much as she would like.

At a certain time of the day, BeReal sends a notification to a user’s device and the user has two minutes to take a photo from the front and back camera. The photo is then posted and shared for the person’s followers to see.

When someone posts “late” on BeReal, they can’t see their friends’ posts until they post a message. The app’s campaign promotes “Your friends for real,” according to the app’s website.

Most students haven’t used the app for very long. Bobi Knox, fourth-year UI, said he’s only been on BeReal for six weeks.

Knox heard about the app from a friend, he said.

“It’s a new, fresh and interesting take on what people already love about social media,” he said.

Paulsen added that she likes the app because it’s less organized.

Another aspect of the BeReal app is the real reactions. Instead of liking a post, a user takes a selfie and leaves a “RealMoji”. Paulsen said not many people use this feature of the app.

“There’s no ‘Like’ button, which is one of the worst things about social media,” she said.

The app is spreading to other campuses and also gaining popularity. Mia Nelson, a freshman at the University of Minnesota, said her friends told her to download the BeReal app.

“There’s been a lot of evidence that social media is wrong and you can’t really do that on BeReal,” Nelson said.

Nelson said she only has five friends on the app and enjoys the intimacy that comes with BeReal — that it’s random and upfront.

Knox said he believes the app humanizes social media.

“Overall, it’s a platform that lets you share a second of every day and see a second of everyone,” he said. “You see day-to-day life, not a highlight reel.”

Knox said BeReal is a fun thing that’s healthier for interacting with friends because there are no ads like on Snapchat. He said he has since deleted Snapchat because it was overrun with ads.

“For people who like image-based conversation, I would promote it,” he said. “It’s a completely new and different take on what Snapchat and Instagram have been trying to do for a while.”

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