Instagram’s latest feature test is about being BeReal

The unwritten rule of the internet is that “if there’s a new social media feature, Instagram will copy it.” In the latest example, the Meta-owned social network is testing a BeReal clone feature that challenges people to post candid photos within two minutes.

A screenshot of the feature posted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi described “IG Candid Challenges,” with one of them depicting getting a notification at a random time in the day and having 2 minutes to capture a share a photo — a format pioneered by quickly growing social network BeReal.

Paluzzi’s screenshot suggested that if people participate in that challenge, the original poster can add these contributions to their own IG stories. The company is already testing the collaborative Stories tray with “Add your sticker,” and while its latest experiment might look like an extension of that, the description very much mirrors BeReal’s core functionality.

The company told Engadget that the experiment is “an internal prototype and not testing externally.” We have reached out to Instagram to find out more details about its public testing plans.

Even if the feature doesn’t make it to the general user population in its current form, it’s apparent that social network is interested in seeing if it can replicate some of the causes of BeReal’s current popularity. Last month, it added a “Dual Camera” feature that takes a photo combining images from both the front and the back camera.

Instagram has a history of copying features from other successful apps like Snapchat and TikTok and in process of doing that, many feel it has become bloated and convoluted. Users have been constantly complaining about the app’s feature choices and algorithms. In July, the company had to roll back its algorithm-heavy feed that showed more suggested content, vs. stuff posted by your friend, in a move that echoes TikTok’s way of surfacing content.

While BeReal is center of a lot of tech discussions, data from Apptopia suggests that the app has had only just over 10 million lifetime downloads. For comparison, Instagram reportedly has more than 2 billion monthly active users (not downloads). So there’s no direct competition at the moment, but the Meta owned company probably wants to squash any threat before it becomes a mega social network.

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