Meta is internally testing a BeReal-like “Roll Call” feature in Messenger, the company confirmed to AapkaDost on Wednesday. The feature, which was first spotted by a social media consultant Matt Navarra, invites users to add a photo or video to a prompt to share what they are currently working on. Only people who add to the roll call can see other responses. The concept behind the test feature is similar to BeReal, which invites users to take a photo of the front and back of the camera at a random time every day in an effort to bring authenticity back to social media.
Unlike BeReal, which prompts users to share images at any given time, Messenger’s new feature doesn’t automatically prompt users to post content. Instead, users can choose to start a roll call thread in a group chat at any time. For example, you can create a prompt that says “Show me your lunch,” and other group chat participants can respond with images or videos of their lunch.
To encourage participation, the prompt will have a timed countdown. Once someone starts a roll call, a notification is sent to all users in the group chat. After you submit an image or video, you can view everyone else’s responses.
According to screenshots of the prototype shared online by Navarra, Meta envisions the feature as a new way for users to see what everyone is doing in a group chat. A description of the feature notes that the feature is designed to help people share authentic moments with friends and family, which is also the idea behind BeReal.
Since roll call is still an internal prototype, it’s unknown when or if Meta plans to roll out the feature publicly. As with any prototype, the final product may look different from the test product.
It’s worth noting that Meta seems to be trying to bring roll call to its other platforms as well, including Instagram. Last October, developer and reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi discovered that Instagram was developing a roll call feature for DMs.
BeReal’s popularity last year made social media giants rush to release their own similar features as users expressed interest in authentic ways to share what they’re up to. Last September, TikTok launched a BeReal clone called TikTok Now which basically cuts and pastes BeReal into its platform. A few months later, Instagram introduced “Candid Stories,” another BeReal clone that follows the exact same concept. Even Snapchat got in on the BeReal craze with the launch of a “Dual Camera” feature.
Over the past year, we’ve seen popular social media companies copy each other in numerous ways. At some point, these apps will become overcrowded with similar features, and that may not be something consumers want.