BeReal, Gen Z’s favorite social app, experienced an extended outage today, which the company only made up for with a brief — and rather vague — tweet, saying, “Yup, it’s our turn.” In recent months, the Paris-based app maker has seen its photo-sharing service climb to the top of the app store, beating out competitors like Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok at times Displaced 1st place. But the company has also gained a reputation for not being very communicative – a pattern that seems to extend to its own users.
To date, the startup has not offered an official press interview, although it has agreed to meet with some for confidential briefings. (Or apparently in the background if you’re the Financial Times.)
However, this reluctance to communicate goes beyond the media. As BeReal faced an extended outage today – one that spanned several hours and frustrated its users who were unable to upload photos – the company had little to say.
Meanwhile, engaged users stormed the account’s Twitter replies asking for more details, while others posted their grievances using the hashtag #BeRealDown. Many just wanted to know if the issues they were having with the app were affecting others as well. They had no information.
BeReal was contacted for comment and declined to answer a number of questions about its outage, including things like what caused it, how widespread it was and whether the company had any sense of when it would be fixed.
Understandably, the team may have struggled to resolve the technical issues before responding to these requests. But when the outage was fixed hours later, we were only informed this tweet which says: “everything is fine now.”
This lack of transparency from a company that is simultaneously urging its millions of users to be “real” with one another is beginning to wear off.
At this point, we have to wonder how a company like this would react if there were ever a more serious issue affecting their platform. What if BeReal is affected by a data breach or hack? What if bad actors engage with the platform in some way – will BeReal then have anything to say?
The company can’t pretend to be a tiny indie app maker. It has raised a $30 million Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz and Accel, followed by a Series B from DST Global that values the startup at over $600 million before the money, reports said . The app has Seen nearly 46 million installs, according to Sensor Tower data. It’s still the #3 app on the US iPhone App Store’s non-game charts today – having only temporarily lost its top spot to widget-creating apps after the launch of iOS 16. It plans to monetize subscriptions soon.
While press avoidance may be a strategy BeReal is currently employing, not communicating with its own users seems like a misstep. BeReal is on the rise, but can’t count on its continued success just yet.
After all, young people are downright fickle when it comes to trying out new social experiences and giving up again. And TikTok just cloned the entire BeReal format, as did Instagram and Snapchat to an extent. If BeReal wants to be seen as a company and not just a feature to be copied, it’s time to behave like one.