Social media platforms have a deservedly poor reputation amongst scholars, cultural critics, politicians, and the wider public for their exploitation of users and their complicity in fostering misinformation and disinformation on a variety of topics. And yet they enjoy widespread usage, a duality increasingly understood through the false promise of authenticity they offer. This article considers the photo sharing app BeReal, an upstart contender whose viral popularity with teenagers made it both an emblem and an antidote to social media’s authenticity problem. Drawing on and affirming many of the conclusions in the existing scholarship on authenticity and media, it uses BeReal to demonstrate the necessity of considering photography as an essential element in the authenticity framework. Doing so clears a space for individual agency in the face of the acknowledged dominance of these platforms.

You do not currently have access to this content.