Instagram is testing a copycat version of the popular BeReal app

Instagram appears to be copying another up-and-coming social media competitor: BeReal, the popular new photo app that prompts users to take and post an image once a day at the same time as their friends.

The veteran photo sharing app is testing a feature that looks almost identical to BeReal, according to a screenshot posted on Twitter by developer Alessandro Paluzzi. In the image, Instagram asks users to “Join IG Candid Challenges” and “every day at a different time, get a notification to capture and share a photo in 2 minutes”.

That’s the basic premise of BeReal. An Instagram spokesperson said the tool was an “internal prototype” that it was “not testing externally”. A BeReal spokesman had no immediate comment.

Kylie Jenner was critical of Instagram’s move to mimic TikTok’s short-form videos.Credit:Getty Images

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced last week it would be looking at how major digital platforms, such as Instagram, copy smaller competitors’ features to see whether it is entrenching the incumbents’ power in the market.

BeReal, founded in 2020 and based in Paris, has become popular with teenagers thanks to its push to get people to post at the same time. Snapping images at an unexpected time each day has also led to a less polished experience because users aren’t spending time staging, editing or perfecting the images – a frequent criticism of the posts on Instagram.

Meta, which owns Instagram, has a history of copying the features of upstart competitors, including Snapchat’s Stories product and TikTok’s short-form videos.

While its move to copy Stories was widely seen as successful, its experiments this year with adopting TikTok’s attention-sucking combination of full screen, autoplaying videos selected by an algorithm, rather than who a user follows, sparked a backlash. The company walked back some of its plans after celebrities, including model and make-up businesswoman Kylie Jenner, criticised the move.

BeReal has raised money from big name international venture capital firms such as Andreessen Horowitz and Accel, but its commercial strategy is unclear. For now, BeReal does not have ads or a subscription product to generate revenue unlike Meta, which recently reported $US28 billion ($40.7 billion) in revenue for the second quarter.

That was its first-ever quarterly decline in ad revenue. Changes by Apple that have made it harder for companies to target users with ads and the worsening global economy were both seen to have contributed.

Bloomberg with Nick Bonyhady

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