Cutting corners: Meta's creed seems to be, "If you can't beat them, buy them. If you can't buy them, copy them." At least, that's how it seems, as it appears Instagram plans to steal a competitor's idea again to implement as a Stories feature. This time the target is the sleeper-hit BeReal app that is currently ranked #1 on Apple's App Store.
For context, BeReal is a social media app that sends out a notification at a random time during the day. Users and their friends have two minutes to post a picture using the rear-facing and selfie cameras simultaneously. Friends can then comment and react to each other's posts. The idea is to capture a candid moment in a user's life to share without any preparation, makeup, filters, and other frivolities that make Instagram posts so fake.
Self-proclaimed leaker and reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi tweeted screenshots of an apparent upcoming Instagram feature that sounds strangely familiar.
"Join IG Candid Challenges," the Instagram test feature notification reads. "Add other's IG Candid to your story tray. And everyday [sic] at a different time, get a notification to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes."
It's essentially the same concept as Bereal. The only substantive difference is that posts appear in users' Stories tray. Meta didn't even change the timing or framework. Paluzzi adds that, like BeReal, Candid Challenges also uses a dual camera tool to snap pictures of users' faces and their surroundings. However, Instagram began using that dual-camera component for its TikTok copycat feature Reels in July.
#Instagram is working on IG Candid Challenges, a feature inspired by @BeReal_App '— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) August 22, 2022
ℹ️ Add other's IG Candid to your story tray. And everyday at a different time, get a notification to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes. pic.twitter.com/caTCgUPtEV
We probably should not be surprised that Meta's radar picked up BeReal's presence and deemed it a threat. French developer Alexis Barreya first released BeReal for iOS in 2020. The somewhat experimental social media platform languished in obscurity for almost two years until Gen-Zers started finding and sharing it in early 2022. The app began picking up steam, and by July, it was sitting in the App Store's number one slot, eclipsing both of Meta's platform apps, Instagram at number six and Facebook at 10. So far, BeReal has earned itself over 20 million downloads.
Some would say that Meta has long been wrung dry of fresh and original ideas. Others would say that it never had any at all. It's undoubtably easier and quicker to hustle ideas from smaller fish that can't afford to fight the social media giant's legal team. That or buy the properties directly and eliminate the work of writing new code. Either way allows Meta to offer customers the same functionality with the convenience of using a single app.
Meta has met requests for comment with a boilerplate response from spokeswoman Christine Pai. The statement confirms that Instagram is testing the feature internally, but nothing else.
"This feature is an internal prototype and not testing externally," Pai emailed several media outlets.
Of course, testing does not mean the feature will ever reach the public release level. Still, with Meta's track record of 'borrowing' other companies' ideas or buying them outright, it's a good bet that Candid Challenges will make it to a future Instagram update.