Despite its introduction in 2020, the BeReal app only gained popularity in the past few months, with over 10m daily active users. However, using BeReal at work has raised concerns over regulatory breaches.
What is BeReal?
BeReal is a social media app which gives its users a notification at a random time each day that they have two minutes to "BeReal", i.e. take an immediate picture of their surroundings. The intention is for users to spend less time than they normally would on social media by taking an unfiltered snap.
Once users have posted their pictures in the two-minute window, they can scroll through their friends' pictures to see what they are up to. On the surface, the app is innocent fun with good intentions, but when users get a notification between 9am and 5pm on a weekday, it becomes a breach waiting to happen.
Reason to avoid BeReal at work
1. Data protection breaches
Employees who use BeReal at work are at risk of breaching data protection laws. Since BeReal involves taking a picture of what is in front of you, many employees will take a picture of their computer screen. This risks the exposure of personal data - even having an email address in the picture is a data breach.
Any emails, team meetings or company documents that are on screen contain personal information that is protected by law. To counter the argument that the picture is taken from a distance or the font is small, these pictures can be zoomed in on and forwarded, which directly breaks data protection regulations. As a result, employees face disciplinary action.
2. Company policy violations
Posting pictures of your laptop screen is also likely to violate company rules. Employee contracts usually include a duty of confidentially which states that you cannot distribute confidential information about the company. That information could be found on your computer screen or in the office environment.
When taking a quick picture, checking these details doesn't come to mind. This action against company policy could result in serious consequences for the company, such as reputational damage.
3. Misconduct allegations
Sending any confidential company or client information out into the social media scene could result in serious misconduct allegations. Once confidentially is lost, it can't be regained, so companies can consider this type of breach serious enough to dismiss employees on the grounds of gross misconduct.
"Most companies will have set rules about breaching confidentiality either in their disciplinary policy or staff handbook...companies will often regard any breach as serious and warrant a dismissal.”
How do companies guard against BeReal?
Companies can take several precautions to protect themselves against financial and reputational damage caused by workplace social media, such as employees using BeReal. These actions include ensuring:
- the company has robust IT, data protection and security practices in place
- company policies are up-to-date, such as the company social media, disciplinary and data protection policies
- clear communication to all employees regarding expectations and consequences for breaches
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