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Meta is internally testing a BeReal-like 'Roll Call' feature in Messenger

Meta is internally testing a BeReal-like "Roll Call" feature in Messenger, the company confirmed to TechCrunch on Wednesday. The feature, which was first spotted by social media consultant Matt Navarra, invites users to add a photo or video to a prompt to share what they're up to at the moment. 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 front and back camera photo at a random time every day in a bid to bring authenticity back to social media.

Unlike BeReal, where users are asked to share images at a random time, Messenger's new feature doesn't automatically ask users to post content. Instead, users can choose to start a roll call thread in a group chat at any given time. For instance, you can create a prompt that says "show me your lunch," and other participants in the group chat 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 of the 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 sees the feature as a new way for users to see what everyone is up to 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.

Given that roll call is still an internal prototype, it's unknown when or if Meta plans to roll out the feature publicly. As with any other prototype, the finished product may look different than the test product.

It's worth noting that Meta appears to be looking to bring roll call to its other platforms as well, including Instagram. Last October, developer and reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi found that Instagram was developing a roll call feature for DMs.

BeReal's rise in popularity last year saw social media giants scrambling to release their own similar features as users showed interest in authentic ways of sharing what they're up to. Last September, TikTok launched a BeReal clone called TikTok Now that basically cut-and-paste BeReal into its platform. A few months later, Instagram introduced "Candid Stories," which is 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 are going to be overcrowded with similar features, and that might not be something that consumers want.