The point of BeReal is simple: Keep your circle tight. The app where most accounts are private and users can only post once a day is unveiling a new Friends of Friends feature that allows users to explore what people they kinda know are up to.
TechCrunch reports that BeReal is replacing the app’s Discovery feed with Friends of Friends, in which you can see friends of friends’ posts. See what they did there? When users go to post their daily photo, they can select if they want that post to appear on the Friends of Friends feed or if they want it to remain in their inner circle—sort of like Instagram’s Close Friends list. Users can also remove specific people from their Friends of Friends feed. The feature is a more intimate version of the previous Discover feed—which showed posts from any number of random people across the world who gave the app permission—but Friends of Friends overcomplicates the simple fact that if a user wanted a friend of a friend to view their photos, they could just add them to their Friends list.
“While you can find your friends on BeReal through your phone contacts, with so many channels of communication today we noticed that sometimes it can be difficult to find all of your IRL friends on BeReal,” a spokesperson for the company told Gizmodo in an email. “The Friends of Friends feed provides a glimpse into the lives of the people who are more directly connected to your friend group to help discover your friends on BeReal.”
BeReal resonated deeply with Gen Z because the app lacked a lot of the addictive, engagement-hungry bells and whistles that other social media platforms traditionally tout. The gimmick of only being able to post once per day was a refreshing change of pace from the never-ending TikTok For You page and Instagram’s marketplace of drop-shipped junk. In this way, BeReal was sort of an anti-social media platform, one that actively kept users from spending more than a small amount of time on it. With that, it’s hard to feel like Friends of Friends is anything other than the revolutionary platform’s attempt at tricking you into wasting your time and/or feeling FOMO.
Friends of Friends is not the first sign of BeReal’s Kafka-esque transformation into a Big Tech cockroach. Earlier this summer, BeReal debuted RealChat, which is simply a DM feature that allows you to connect with people in your friends list more directly, likely in a bid to catch up to social media heavy-hitters like Instagram and Twitter (now X). Last year, however, there was a dizzying trend of brands signing up for BeReal in an effort to cash in on the buzz of the app’s meteoric rise with Gen Z. While seemingly inevitable, this influx of company identities undermined the app’s efforts to curate an authentic, human experience on the platform. Around the same time, the tides appeared to turn for BeReal, as data revealed that only nine percent of the app’s users on Android were using the app daily.
Update August 21 2:40 p.m. EST: This article was updated to include comment from a BeReal spokesperson.