BeReal's policy update isn't really fixing its privacy issues

BeReal on the App Store displayed on a phone screen and a laptop in the background are seen in this illustration photo
(Image credit: Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Many people, especially the youngest in society, have increasingly endorsed BeReal's mission to reject the fake filter-led world of social media since its launch in 2020.

Described by its creator as "Not another social network," privacy experts have been warning that, just like similar platforms around, BeReal is yet again another data-hungry app. And, even using privacy software like a VPN service isn't going to protect you. 

Now, the company has just announced an update to both its privacy policy and terms of service to go into effect on May 25. However, this doesn't seem to really fix BeReal's privacy issues. Let's see why.

"Stark reminder" to delete data 

Despite distancing themselves from the glittering social media world, BeReal acts very similarly to its competitors when it comes to gathering user data.

Some of the information the app collects is directly shared by users. This includes phone number, email address, name, date of birth, geolocation and content uploaded like photos, videos, comments and messages. At the same time, it also collects usage data like IP address, connection timestamps, details on how users interact with the app, and more.

While this is worrying from a privacy point of view, it's really no different to what other social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram and Twitter already do. However, its data retention policy is what has raised concern in the past.

As VPN provider AtlasVPN noted in a blog post published in November 2022, BeReal's old terms of usage granted a 30-year license on all the content posted by its users. This gave the company the right to "store, host, reproduce, adapt, modify, publish, edit, distribute and sublicense" users' pictures without copyright royalties for up to three decades. 

The update has now removed this provision. However, user content is now retained for "as long as you have an active account or until the Content is deleted by you."

"BeReal's doubling down on data retention is a stark reminder that people must request the deletion of their data when they intend to stop using services," warns TechRadar's in-house digital privacy expert Andreas Theodorou.

"Given the popularity of this app with children, it's worrying to think how the data may be used in the future if users don't make the request or properly deactivate their accounts."

Experts have also criticized the way the app pushes its users to "overshare," warning that this could increase the chances of privacy breaches. 

For the uninitiated, BeReal works by sending a notification everyday at different times to all users, inviting them to capture and share both a front and rear camera snap. Users have a two-minute window to do so, with late posts being notified to other viewers. What's more, people cannot see what other people have shared unless they've posted themselves.

"Due to the nature of BeReal and the fact that it pushes users to post content once every day, there will undoubtedly be privacy issues there and even future court cases where strict laws like the GDPR may be violated," Mirza, Privacy Expert at VPNOverview, told Digital Journal, adding that the app might also share users' location without consent.

"We strongly recommend not sharing your geo-location data. To do this, refuse to give the platform permission when first opening the application. If you have already granted permission, change such permissions through your phone system settings."

Chiara Castro
Senior Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to