BeReal: Can my post get me in trouble at work? – BBC

By Kirsty Grant
BBC Newsbeat

When you read it's "Time to BeReal!" on your phone, the expectations are clear. You open the app, take a picture of yourself and whatever's in front of you.
It could be the meal you've just cooked, the TV show you're watching, or your computer screen at work.
But as the app grows in popularity, do we need to be more careful what we post when we're on shift?
Or is zooming in on your friend's work computer just innocent fun?
The app was released in 2020, but started to get much more popular in mid-2022. Some reports say BeReal has had more than 27 million downloads worldwide.
If you're not familiar with it, it's a social media platform that notifies all users simultaneously at a random time every day. It gives you just two minutes to stop and take a picture of your surroundings.
The idea is that it takes you off-guard, forcing you to be more "real" than you might be when curating, for example, an Instagram story.
Once you've posted, you can scroll through all of your friends' posts and see what they're up to.
Most users will admit they've enjoyed zooming in to their friends' screen to see the way they type on email, or what task they're up to.
But talk has since turned to whether that's allowed – with people flagging data protection and privacy concerns.
The amount of GDPR violations when BeReal goes off between 9 and 5 😮‍💨
Me trying to read everybody’s work e-mails in their bereal
bereal is going to be the reason someone accidentally leaks something extremely confidential from their job and brings their company down
It's "definitely a bad idea" to take a BeReal of your work screen, says Emma Green, a data protection expert and managing partner at Cyber Data Law Solicitors.
She says there are a number of factors to consider.
"Firstly, you will more than likely be breaking data protection laws if there's any personal data on those screens."
That's any information linked to a person that makes them identifiable.
So yes, even getting someone's email address in the shot would technically be a breach of the law.
More importantly, Emma stresses that taking any photo of your workplace screen is very likely to be a breach of company rules.
"Probably in your employment contract, there will be a duty of confidentiality as an employee not to disclose confidential information about the company that may well be on those screens and even in the office in the background," she says.
Even though you can choose who to be friends with on the BeReal app, Emma says once something is posted you can never be sure who will see it. Screenshots could be taken, or phones passed around among friends.
"Especially if people are zooming in and reading emails, you may well be in breach of contract," she says.
"It could lead to disciplinaries, and so you could find yourself in a lot of trouble with your employer."
You might be thinking this advice is dramatic, and be tempted to snap that photo next time your BeReal alert goes off.
But Emma's key advice is that the post isn't worth the hassle it might cause.
Even if it's meant to be an innocent picture, shared among friends, if it ends up further than that you could be in trouble.
"'I wasn't aware' or 'I didn't realise' is not a defence, unfortunately," Emma says.
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