- BeReal is safe to use, as long as you’re careful about who you send photos to.
- You should make sure not to include any personal or sensitive information inside of your BeReal photos.
- The BeReal app doesn’t take more of your data than any other social media app, like Instagram or Snapchat.
The new social media app BeReal has been hitting the top of every “Most Downloaded Apps” chart lately. The basic concept behind it is that you only get to take one photo a day, and you never know when in the day it’ll happen.
But before you use any new social media app — no matter how popular it is — you should take time to see whether it’s actually safe to use.
What kinds of data does BeReal see?
In general, we can split the sort of data that BeReal sees into three categories: Personal data, Device data, and Content data.
To sign up for BeReal, you have to provide your name, date of birth, and a phone number. BeReal uses this data to identify you when you log in, and while only your name is public, they keep all the data in their servers. It stays in those servers until three years after the last time you use the app, or until you contact BeReal asking for it to be deleted.
They also require you to make a username. This isn’t as personal as the other bits of information, but if you use the same username across multiple apps, it can be used to find those other accounts.
Lastly, BeReal will repeatedly ask you to give the app access to your phone’s contacts list. Doing this will let you know which of your contacts also have BeReal accounts, so you can easily add them to your friends list — but it also means that all their phone numbers will be saved in BeReal’s servers.
BeReal promises that it doesn’t give out any personal information to third parties, and there’s no evidence that BeReal’s security is compromised in any way. But you should still always be wary about giving social media companies your info.
As soon as you open BeReal, it automatically knows what kind of device you’re using, what version of iOS or Android you have, and your IP address. This is how most websites and apps work.
Your IP address also tells BeReal your current general location. But it usually doesn’t get any more specific than what city you’re in, and you can even spoof your IP location using a VPN.
Finally, BeReal knows how often you open the app. This isn’t very sensitive information, but some people might not like an app logging every time they open it.
BeReal keeps all of this information for two years.
And now, the big stuff.
Every time you post a photo on BeReal, that photo is saved to BeReal’s servers. Same goes for any comments you make or RealMojis — reactions that use an actual picture of you — that you give. They stay there until three years after the last time you use the app, or until you contact BeReal.
BeReal isn’t the only one that can save these. Anyone who sees your BeReal posts and comments can screenshot them and potentially share them with others.
This is why you shouldn’t add anyone you don’t trust as a friend on BeReal. And if you’re posting something you don’t want shared outside of your inner circle, don’t post it to the public Discover page.
Also be sure not to accidentally take a picture of anything that could get you in trouble at work — like internal company spreadsheets or trade secrets. Jayne Harrison, head of employment law at the British law firm Richard Nelson LLP, even warns that employees who post sensitive work information could be fired or at legal risk.
Whenever you post a photo on BeReal, it’ll ask for your current location. This location gets shared with BeReal (who saves it for three years) and anyone who sees your photo. It’s never a good idea to share your exact location online, so you’re better off disabling this setting.
Taking photos means you have to give BeReal access to your camera. And to save photos, you have to give it access to your phone’s camera roll. BeReal isn’t quite clear about how long they keep this data, but it’s for at least two years after the last time you post a photo.
Insider’s takeaway: BeReal is relatively safe
It’s true that BeReal takes and stores a decent amount of data. And if you’re concerned about big companies knowing your personal information, it’s probably not worth making a BeReal account.
But in the grand scheme of things, BeReal isn’t any more dangerous than any other social media app.
If anything, it’s safer. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter take everything that BeReal does, but also keep a close eye on all of your interests, political opinions, search history, and even recent purchases. Compared to them, BeReal is pretty limited in scope.
Like we noted before, BeReal hasn’t experienced any sort of data breaches yet. And since you need to enter a unique code every time you log in, your account has a lot of natural security.
If (or when) BeReal adds more features, this might change. But for now, BeReal is safe — or at least, as safe as any social media app can be these days.
You can ask BeReal to delete your data early
BeReal keeps most of your personal information for at least two years after it’s collected, even if you delete your account. But if you want to erase that data early, you can ask BeReal to do it.
To contact BeReal, you can either send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can mail a physical letter to BeReal, 30/32 boulevard de Sébastopol, 75004 Paris France.
There’s no guarantee that they’ll obey every request, but they do try to respond to each one.
How to limit the information BeReal can see
Not all of the data that BeReal wants is mandatory. This means that you can enhance your privacy by restricting what BeReal can see.
If you’re on an iPhone, open the Settings app and scroll down to the list of apps, then select BeReal. Here you can turn off BeReal’s location permissions and its access to your contacts and camera.
On an Android, open the Settings app and tap Apps, then All apps, and then BeReal. Tap Permissions, and you can choose whether it’s allowed to access your camera, contacts, location, and more.
Just note that you technically need to give BeReal access to the camera to use most of the app — you can’t post photos or see other people’s photos without it.