Gen Z’s favorite social app BeReal had a long-term outage today, which the company only acknowledged with a brief — and fairly vague — tweetstating: “Yes, we are working on it.” In recent months, the Paris-based app maker has seen its photo-sharing service climb to the top of the App Store, sometimes displacing competitors like Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok from the No. 1 spot. But the company has also built a reputation for not being very communicative — a pattern that extends to its own users, it seems.
To date, the startup has not officially offered an on-the-record press interview, though it has been willing to meet with some for off-the-record briefings. (Or apparently, in the background if you’re the TBEN.)
However, this hesitation to communicate goes beyond the media. Today, when BeReal faced a lengthy outage — one that lasted for several hours and frustrated users who couldn’t upload photos anymore — the company had little to say.
Meanwhile, dedicated users stormed the account’s Twitter replies asking for more information, while others posted their complaints on the hashtag #BeRealDown. Many just wanted to know if the issues they were experiencing with the app affected others. They had no information.
BeReal was asked for comment and declined to answer a number of questions related to the outage, including things like the cause, how widespread it was, and whether the company had any idea when it would be resolved.
Understandably, the team struggled to address the technical issues before responding to these questions. But when the outage was fixed hours later, we were only pointed out this tweet which said “all is well now.”
This lack of transparency from a company that is simultaneously pushing its user base of millions to be “real” with each other is starting to thin.
At this point, we have to wonder how a company like this would react if there were ever a more serious problem with its platform. What if BeReal is faced with a data breach or hack? What if bad actors are somehow involved in the platform – will BeReal have anything to say then?
The company can’t keep pretending it’s a small 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, with the startup valued at $600+ million, reports say. The app has seen nearly 46 million installations, according to data from Sensor Tower. It’s still the No. 3 app on the US iPhone App Store’s non-game charts — having only temporarily lost its top spot in widget-creation apps after the launch of iOS 16. It’s planning revenue soon generated with subscriptions.
While avoiding the press may be a strategy BeReal currently employs, not communicating with its own users seems like a mistake. BeReal is on the rise, but can’t count on continued success yet.
After all, young people are not that fickle when it comes to trying out and giving up on new social experiences. And TikTok just cloned the entire BeReal format, just like Instagram and Snapchat to some extent. If BeReal wants to be seen as a company and not just as a feature to be copied, it’s time it started acting like that.