Meta, big tech’s biggest copycat, is at it again. According to well-known leaker and reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi, Meta-owned Instagram is testing out its own version of BeReal, one of the buzziest new social media apps of the moment.
Paluzzi published screenshots of the testing feature, called ‘IG Candid Challenges,’ on Monday. Instagram told Engadget that it was working on an internal prototype of the feature but declined to provide addition details. Gizmodo reached out to Instagram for comment on Tuesday morning but did not receive a response by the time of publication. The leaker explained that it appears that Candid Challenges will live in the story section of the app and will be opt-in. Should users choose to participate, Paluzzi stated, they will receive a notification at a different time every day prompting them to take a picture in two minutes. Sound familiar? That’s the same time interval in which BeReal prompts its users to snap and share a pic. The app, pitched as a more immediate and authentic alternative to Instagram, prompts users to share a front-and-back snapshot within two minutes of clicking on a notification. It’s been downloaded more than 20 million times as of the start of this month.
Though Instagram is working on Candid Challenges, that doesn’t mean that it will roll out the feature to all users in the future. Apps regularly test features that never reach the general public.
Like with BeReal, users will be able to take a picture using their phone’s front and back cameras at the same time using Instagram’s Dual feature. Instagram first unveiled the Dual feature back in mid-July, around the same time it announced that new video posts shorter than 15 minutes would all be shared as Reels, its TikTok copycat. The company is pushing Reels in an apparent effort to turn Instagram’s main feed into TikTok, and now it wants Stories to imitate BeReal.
Paluzzi told Gizmodo via Twitter direct messages that Instagram’s decision to copy BeReal was “quite predictable,” given that it had already done the same with features from other platforms. Stories, where Candid Challenges would live, is itself not an Instagram original feature. It’s an idea the company lifted from Snapchat, which Meta acknowledges. However, the leaker said he didn’t expect for Instagram to copy BeReal so soon. He thinks that Candid Challenges on Instagram could be a hit if it’s ever released.
“A similar feature integrated into Instagram could be just as successful, those who currently use both apps might surely find it more convenient to have fun on one platform,” he told Gizmodo. “And I bet that even those who now criticize this feature will end up using it.”
In my humble opinion, shameless desperation isn’t cool, and that’s what Instagram’s actions seem like to me. It’s clear that Instagram, and its parent Meta, are shaking in their boots at all this competition from newer players like TikTok and BeReal. Yet, instead of pushing the boundary and trying something new, it looks like it just wants to turn the app into something else—again.
Well, we all know how that turned out last time.