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Privacy warning about the social media app teens are now obsessed with

By Georgia Weir|

Forget Instagram and TikTok, if you want to know what social media app your teenagers are obsessed with you should probably take a look at BeReal.?

Just as the name implies BeReal encourages users to do just that - be real and authentic. It allows users to connect in the digital world away from sites saturated with corporate ads and aided by filters.

BeReal works quite simply. Once every 24 hours, the app will randomly send the user a push notification that it is time to capture a BeReal. You only have two minutes from the initial notification to take a BeReal photo on time. Any time thereafter, your BeReal will be branded 'late' on your friends' timeline.?

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Teenager Nick says BeReal feels less intense than other social media platforms. (Supplied)

The app will take both a front camera image and a back camera image. You also cannot see what your friends have posted until you post your own BeReal for the day.

The idea is to realistically capture whatever you're doing at that moment thus carving the way for authentic social media interactions. BeReal has no filters, it forces you to be in the moment no matter how banal or innocuous.

Unlike Instagram, there is no follower count on BeReal; instead of followers, you add your friends and the amount of friends you have is only visible to you. This is a stark departure from the obsessive follower and likes counting that has become synonymous with other social media platforms.

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The platform, founded by former GoPro employee Alexis Barreyat along with K¨¦vin Perreau, launched in December of 2019. However, it has only been within the last six months that the app has blown up thanks to TikTok - which is where many users share their BeReal images.?BeReal is currently rated number one in App Store downloads, and has been for over four weeks.

While teens who use the app say it is less addictive than other social media and does not pressure them to be perfect, experts have raised some concerns.?

Senior Lecturer in Digital Cultures at the University of Sydney Dr Chris Chesher says while he "quite likes" BeReal he does have some concerns about privacy due to the fact the app takes two images at the same time.?

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BeReals can come at innocuous times such as getting in the car or having a movie night, but they're authentic. (Supplied)

"Before sharing anything to the Discover feed, check your images from both cameras to make sure they don't reveal anything about your life you wouldn't want to be made public," is his advice to users.??

"When in doubt, post to your friends only. This is particularly the case because the platform encourages you to capture images quickly, and from both cameras."

Dr Chesher also raised concerns about the unknown aspects of the app's content moderation.?

"Similarly, it's not clear how effective the moderation of content will be on this fast-growing platform. You can report offensive or inappropriate content if you see it, but it is yet to be seen whether you can't rely on getting a clean feed."

BeFeal fan Annelise, 18, says she likes BeReal's authenticity.?

"It's way less addictive than other social media. I also don't feel pressured to always look my best or be doing something interesting," she said.?

"I feel less insecure realising that everyone else isn't always doing something exciting now that I use BeReal."

Nick, 16, agrees.

"It's legit, no filter, no making your pics cool by going out to pose or dressing up. You have to upload when you get the notification so it's the real authentic you," he said.

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