Privatized social media platforms such as BeReal and Snapchat have gained a lot of attention in recent years, mainly among younger adults. There are many benefits to using more privatized forms of social media as opposed to popular, public platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. While traditional social media platforms have been criticized for years for enabling online bullying, targeting, and causing a decline in mental health for users, privatized platforms strive for a different social media experience.
One of the more prominent benefits of using BeReal and similar platforms like SnapChat is privacy. With BeReal, only the friends you select can see and interact with your posts, which prevents outsiders or strangers from viewing and interacting with your posts. And to hold all BeReal users accountable for participating in the social aspect, only users who post their own “BeReal” picture for the day can view and interact with other posts. Because of the privatized features on BeReal, open source intelligence agencies are unable to collect and preserve data from this platform. Although some Snapchat profiles can be made public to display featured posts, users are still limited by the amount of allowable publicly available posts.
Keeping social media profiles private can mitigate instances of online bullying, stalking or inappropriate or criminal activity. Privacy settings prevent unknown users from viewing or commenting on a subject’s activities online. Additionally, social media users are able to control with whom they connect and therefore, who can see their images, videos, and posts. By eliminating elusive viewers and users, innocent social media users can prevent connections with online predators, and eliminate connections with bullies or stalkers.
The BeReal movement prioritizes the “real” moments of life and eliminates opportunities to enhance or filter images to create falsified illusions. Because of this, platforms like BeReal support and encourage positive mental health opportunities on social media platforms unlike Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Moreover, BeReal users can only post once a day, which helps to regulate the amount of time spent on the app and potentially reduces the amount of screen time. Not to mention social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok present follower counts, hashtags, and number of likes, which promotes influencer culture while BeReal does not utilize or promote influencer culture, other than comments and emoji reactions to pictures.
What does this mean for capturing evidence online?
The privacy of social media plays an integral role in the ability to capture a subject’s content. While SMI Aware collects and preserves open-source intelligence and information on the web, subject profiles must be public in order to be discovered and collected. Social media monitoring and updating our proprietary software are some of the ways we keep up with the changing landscape of open-source intelligence. SMI Aware recommends privatized accounts especially for young social media users who are susceptible to cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and online predators. If you have questions about starting an investigation, contact SMI Aware today.
Written in collaboration with Ashlyn Gray