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I tried BeReal, the ‘authentic Instagram’ app – would it show the real me? | Social media

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is a new app to know about. BeReal, touted as the “anti-Instagram”, is currently the No 1 free app on the App Store in the US. It promises, slightly unnervingly, “a new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life”.

a scene from The OC plays on a laptop in a bedroom, with an inset photo that shows the author’s face covered by a rabbit emoji
the oc Photograph: Courtesy Niloufar Haidari

It works by sending an amber-alert-style push notification to all its users at once – one that includes two panic-inducing yellow warning sign emojis and a message that it is “time to BeReal”. Upon receiving this missive, everyone uploads a photo of what they are doing at that exact moment in time, regardless of whether they happen to be dancing in a club with their friends or sitting alone on their sofa and staring at the wall.

It also takes a simultaneous snapshot from both your front and back-facing cameras, which explains why this app is mostly being used by teenagers and not those of us who have matured into multiple chins. Crucially, you can’t see anyone else’s BeReal until you have posted your own.

The app has grown faster than its French founders, Alexis Barreyat – who previously worked at GoPro – and Kévin Perreau anticipated when they created it in 2020, with many users complaining that the single photo permitted each day is taking for ever to upload.

After setting up my profile on the app, I am shown possible friends of mine who are already there, being more real than me. They include two friends from university who don’t use Instagram, a cool girl whose couch I stayed on in New York in 2014, the cool girl who’s couch I’m currently staying on in Los Angeles, my editor, and a boy with whom I had a disastrous romantic affair in Denmark many years ago. I add them all, bar the obvious exception. The app also lets you see strangers’ posts in the Discovery tab, and most users appear to be teenagers.

BeReal’s key ethos is authenticity. Its lack of filters and sense of urgency are designed to eliminate any notions of curation or artifice, words that have seemingly become tarnished by Instagram and its glossy influencers. You can’t even see what the front camera is capturing to help you at least pick a flattering angle.

coffee cup on a bed with an inset photo of a ceiling fan
‘I did not want to post a picture of myself from below the chin first thing in the morning.’ Photograph: Courtesy Niloufar Haidari

My first BeReal was a slightly meta snap of me watching the TV, reflected in the mirror. My friend Tom, who is in Turin doing a doctorate, posted a photo of himself and his partner preparing asparagus for dinner. My editor posted a photo of a fish in a tank, and his best impersonation of said fish. Having reached the end of my “feed’’ with these three posts, I clicked back to the “discovery” tab – which is a slew of strangers in mundanity: someone cooking ramen; someone sitting at a train station in London; a blonde woman on a sofa in Illinois watching baseball and drinking wine with a pile of just-wrapped presents on the floor; a young man in Brazil stuck in traffic; five teenage girls hanging out in a green stairwell; a lot of kids doing homework in their bedrooms. It succeeds at its goal of being drab, but why would anyone want an app to un–inspire them?

a mostly eaten salad with a picture of the author inset at the top left
The app takes snapshots from your phone’s front- and back-facing cameras. Photograph: Courtesy Niloufar Haidari

Annoyingly, for the week-long duration of this experiment, my BeReal notification went off at some time between 4am and 7am. The app moaned that I was “posting late” although it still allowed me to post, somewhat defeating BeReal’s stated purpose. One time I offered it a photo of my morning coffee but pointed the front camera towards to the ceiling fan, because I did not want to post a picture of myself from below the chin first thing in the morning. The app patronizingly told me “your friends prefer it when they can see your face!”, which I would have to disagree with.

Personally, I didn’t feel these prosaic images represented my daily life at all. In my mind, my life is all palm trees silhouetted against beautiful sunsets and hummingbirds drinking from blossoms and the feeling of the sun on my skin – which are the things I post on Instagram. Life can be both authentic and beautiful at the same time, and pretending that “real” life is always ugly and trivial seems like a miserablist’s way to understand the world. My Instagram output may be curated rather than created under hostage-like circumstances, but ultimately it feels more authentic to me than a photo of my forehead and a half-eaten salad.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.

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Aviation and Telecom Industries Reach Compromise on 5G Deployment

The Voice Of EU | In a significant development, AT&T and Verizon, the two largest mobile network operators in the United States, have agreed to delay the deployment of 5G services following requests from the aviation industry and the Biden administration. This decision marks a crucial compromise in the long-standing dispute between the two industries, which had raised concerns over the potential interference of 5G with flight signals.
The aviation industry, led by United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, had been vocal about the risks of 5G deployment, citing concerns over the safety of flight operations. Kirby had urged AT&T and Verizon to delay their plans, warning that proceeding with the deployment would be a “catastrophic failure of government.” The US Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the issue further highlighted the need for a solution.
In response, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Steve Dickson sent a letter to the mobile networks, requesting a two-week delay to reassess the potential risks. Initially, AT&T and Verizon were hesitant, citing the aviation industry’s two-year preparation window. However, they eventually agreed to the short delay, pushing the deployment to January 19.
The crux of the issue lies in the potential interference between 5G signals and flight equipment, particularly radar altimeters. The C-Band spectrum used by 5G networks is close to the frequencies employed by these critical safety devices. The FAA requires accurate and reliable radar altimeters to ensure safe flight operations.

Airlines in the US have been at loggerheads with mobile networks over the deployment of 5G and its potential impact on flight safety.

Despite the concerns, both the FAA and the telecoms industry agree that 5G mobile networks and airline travel can coexist safely. In fact, they already do in nearly 40 countries where US airlines operate regularly. The key lies in reducing power levels around airports and fostering cross-industry collaboration prior to deployment.
The FAA has been working to find a solution in the United States, and the additional two-week delay will allow for further assessment and preparation. AT&T and Verizon have also agreed to not operate 5G base stations along runways for six months, similar to restrictions imposed in France.
President Joe Biden hailed the decision to delay as “a significant step in the right direction.” The European Union Aviation Safety Agency and South Korea have also reported no unsafe interference with radio waves since the deployment of 5G in their regions.
As the aviation and telecom industries continue to work together, it is clear that safe coexistence is possible. The delay in 5G deployment is a crucial step towards finding a solution that prioritizes both safety and innovation. With ongoing collaboration and technical assessments, the United States can join the growing list of countries where 5G and airlines coexist without issue.

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