Instagram has rolled out yet another feature eerily reminiscent of an upstart social media competitor. "Dual" is a new feature launched last week on Instagram Stories and Reels that allows you to take a photo or video using both the front and back cameras simultaneously. Those with accounts on BeReal, the social media app that has soared in popularity recently, know that Dual looks very familiar.
BeReal, which has been dubbed the “anti-Instagram” app, forces people to share the unfiltered realities of their day. Once a day at a random time, BeReal notifies users to post what they're doing by snapping a picture that shows both sides of their camera. You are given two minutes to post and once you post, you are able to see what your friends are doing during that same two minute interval. The posts disappear after each day and only you have access to your previous BeReal post history. A few days ago, BeReal reached number one on the App Store, surpassing older social media apps such as Instagram.
Though you are able to retake “BeReals,” before posting one, you are unable to upload your own content or add any filters or edits onto the photo. It is a very simple app that is both easy to understand and low maintenance. You don’t care about the way your feed looks and you don’t have a profile page to maintain. Perhaps Instagram, then, is responding to the outspoken public desire for more authentic content with the introduction of Dual. The similarity was pointed out on Twitter by The Information’s Paris Martineau.
“We’ve built this in a way that makes sense for our community, based on feedback we’ve heard.” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement to Motherboard. “Other platforms have similar features—like Snap, BeReal—but Dual is used in a way that’s unique to Instagram, and meets the demands of our community.”
On Dual, you are also unable to upload existing photos so you have to use the Instagram app to take the photo or video. However, there is still more control on Dual than BeReal: you can swipe to add filters, and also add text, stickers, and other drawings using the story menu features at the top right. Also, unlike BeReal, which has a locked-in position of where your two images go, you are able to move around the smaller image on Dual and increase or decrease its size. The Dual feature thus feels more like a sticker that can be added onto photos. There's also no timed element to it, so Instagram hasn't taken the core functionality from BeReal, just the aesthetic of its posts.
Lately, Instagram has been under fire for becoming more and more of a TikTok clone. On Monday, two of the most followed Instagrammers, Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, shared a post on their Instagram Stories that said “Make Instagram Instagram Again. (stop trying to be tiktok i just want to see cute photos of my friends.) Sincerely, Everyone”. This led to the associated change.org petition gaining over 200,000 signatures.
There has been so much backlash that Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri had to respond in a video message, where instead of backing down, says "I need to be honest. I do believe more and more of Instagram is going to become videos." Mosseri continued to say that this is “still a test” and that some changes the platform has made are “not yet good.”
On Wednesday, the company announced that it will walk back some of the recent changes it has made due to the public’s criticism. In an interview with Casey Newton, Mosseri said the company will phase out the full-screen photos and videos that were used in a test version of the app, and reduce the number of recommended posts in the app.
Mosseri told Newton that he sees feed posts as more public and stories and DMs as for connecting with friends and family: “When we launched Instagram, there were no stories, there were no DMs. What's happened over the last decade is that how people share with friends has changed. It has shifted to stories, and it has shifted to DMs and to group chats.”
This is probably why you can only post Dual photos and videos on stories or send them via DMs—it is intended to be personal and “real.” Though, I still don’t see why someone would want to share a Dual on their Instagram story. The appeal of BeReal is that you can comment on your friends' posts, they’re all put into one feed for easy scrolling access, and you know when people screenshot your posts. If I wanted my friends to see my honest front and back camera, I’d just wait until the two minute BeReal notification appears on my phone—where I won’t feel bad about lying in bed snacking in the middle of the day because everyone else is doing it too.