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Instagram is prototyping a feature very similar to BeReal

TThe hype surrounding the fledgling social media platform BeReal hasn’t escaped Instagram’s attention, it seems.

Instagram confirmed to TIME on Tuesday that it is internally prototyping a new “Heartfelt Challenges” feature that will ask users to capture and share a photo of their surroundings during a different two-minute window each day. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s almost identical to the concept behind BeReal, a social media app touted as “the anti-Instagram” for the way it encourages candid photos taken once a day.

The prototype of the Instagram feature was first made public by Alexander Paluzzi, a mobile developer known for its ability to discover unreleased app features. Paluzzi tweeted a screenshot with information about Candid Challenges on August 22.

He noted that, like BeReal, it would require users to take a snapshot with your front and rear cameras simultaneously to create your daily post.

A spokesperson for Instagram’s parent company, Meta, told TIME that the feature is not something the platform is currently testing outside of the company. Meta did not say when the feature would be released, if at all.

BeReal declined to comment on the prototype news.

Read more: BeReal won’t save us from social media, yet

BeReal’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent months. The number of times BeReal was downloaded jumped 86% month over month from June to July, with digital analytics platform Sensor Tower reporting that global downloads of the app reached 22.8 million.

On BeReal, which launched in late 2019, users can post just once a day, at a random time, when prompted by the app. Photos are not supposed to be posed, and are usually more candid.

BeReal’s push to post raw, unfiltered and less frequently has struck a chord with Gen Zers and Millennials in particular. As of June, 55% of the app’s users were in the 16-24 age group and 43% in the 25-44 age group, according to data platform data.ai.

Monday’s news comes on the heels of the turmoil in Meta. The company is redesigning its Facebook and Instagram apps to compete with TikTok by encouraging more short, shareable videos, a campaign facing major user reaction. Now some BeReal supporters are speaking out against Instagram’s reported attempt to copy the fledgling app.

“Why should Instagram mimic the features of every other platform while the rest of us try to keep up with every update?” Twitter user Jes Cervantes wrote. on Tuesday.

In July, Niklas Myhr, a clinical associate professor at Chapman University known online as “The Social Media Professor” TIME said it was likely another app was trying to copy BeReal.

If other social media apps offered comparable features, Myhr said, “I’m concerned that BeReal won’t have a real blocking effect on users because many people may feel like they can do this on other platforms.”

More must-read stories from TIME


write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com.


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