Meta has confirmed that it is internally prototyping a new Instagram feature that is suspiciously similar to BeReal, the social media app that recently exploded in popularity. The so-called “IG Candidate” feature discovered by leaker Alessandro Paluzzi mirrors BeReal by prompting the user to share an authentic photo at random times each day.
My colleague Casey Newton calls these copycats “murder clones” because of how they are designed to neutralize upstarts by mimicking their killer characteristics.
Paluzzi posted a screenshot to Instagram with details on how the feature might work. “Add other IG candidates to your story tray. And at a different time everyday, get a notification to snap and share a photo in 2 minutes,” the screenshot reads.
For beginners, the BeReal experience is meant to do almost exactly that. The service, which rose to prominence last month and is currently the No. 1 free app in the iOS App Store, sends its users a notification at a random time of day, giving them two minutes to take a backwards and simultaneous photo. Selfie. It’s a format that encourages people to share authentic images from the days gone by, not the kind of carefully curated content Instagram is known for.
Meta confirmed that it is testing the IG Candidate feature in a statement to The Verge. “This feature is an internal prototype, and is not being tested externally,” said Meta spokeswoman Christine Pai. This suggests that there is no fixed timeline for when the feature might become publicly available, if it is released at all.
But seeing as how Meta and other social media giants have reacted to other popular apps over the years, it’s safe to assume that Instagram will eventually give BeReal a backlash if its popularity continues. Eventually, Instagram rolled out a Stories feature of its own when Snapchat’s Stories feature became popular, and the reels are a clear response to the popularity of TikTok.
Meta is far from the only tech giant to roll out a murder clone or two. YouTube Shorts is another transparent attempt to capitalize on the popularity of short-form videos shot vertically, and Twitter was quick to roll-out Spaces in response to the popularity of Clubhouse.
This isn’t even the first time Meta has been accused of copying BeReal. Last month, as BeReal was growing in popularity, it rolled out a new feature widely called Dual, which allows you to take a photo or video simultaneously from both your phone’s front and rear cameras.
People were quick to point out the BeReal similarities, though the Dual differs by allowing you to capture content whenever you want, instead of waiting for a daily notification. But according to a former Instagram product designer, the dual feature was actually in development for several years, and its release was simply “convenient” around the time of BeReal’s explosion in popularity.