BeReal - employees need to be on their guard

Despite ongoing efforts, data breaches are still far too common, particularly as the world becomes geared up towards digital alternatives - and social media is constantly under the spotlight. As large pools of people rush to put sensitive information online, can we really say we're doing all we can to protect ourselves and what are social platforms doing to help?

Oversharing sensitive content

Last year, Facebook made the headlines after it was revealed data from 533 million people in 106 countries was published on a hacking forum and that "more such incidents" were expected.

Now, the latest social media platform, BeReal, is causing a storm - but not so much for a data breach, but rather the content that is being posted that could lead to a data breach.

Getting real

The BeReal app was released in 2020, but suddenly grew in popularity this year and is now believed to have around 27 million users worldwide.

It notifies all users simultaneously at a random time every day, giving 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.

Sounds innocent enough, but, people have started posting images of work emails and other things on screens that would ordinarily be classed as personal information - sensitivity is forgotten when the urgency of a post takes priority.

Too sociable?

It seems that when it comes to sharing information about ourselves online, we're much more likely to overshare when it comes to our social pages. According to Pew Research Center, 16% of social media users have set up their profile to automatically include their location in posts. Plus, 91% of respondents would post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006, 71% post the city or town where they live and 53% post their email address, up from 29%. Some 20% of respondents would also post their mobile  phone number, up from 2% in 2006.

Not only does this create a real concern surrounding the importance of keeping information safe online, it could also land you in hot water with your employer if they realise you've inadvertently shared sensitive information relevant to its business..

Taking any photo of your workplace screen will probably be seen by your employers as a breach of company rules and there is likely to be a clause in your employment contract about employees disclosing confidential information about the company. Taking any photo in the workplace may also inadvertently capture personal data, including images of colleagues (even if in the background).

While the social platform lets you choose your friends on the app and viewing privacy, it's always best to err on the side of caution as you just don't know where any posts will end up. Ignorance is no excuse and it's just not worth the disciplinary.

If you're an employer, it's worth reminding employees about their duty of care towards information held by the company and how they can keep themselves safe online.

If you would like any further advice, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help

Heather Love

Heather Love


Tel: +44 (0) 1483 411516

Office: Godalming Office