- The Senate Commerce Committee held a Thursday hearing about Facebook, Instagram, and mental health.
- Sen. Blumental of Connecticut asked if Facebook would “commit to banning Finsta.”
- “Finstas,” secret accounts some teens make, are not an official Facebook product.
During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday regarding Facebook’s research on the impact of Instagram on young girls, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut asked Facebook’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis if the company would “commit to ending Finsta.” With the comment, he appeared to mistake the term for a Facebook product, when it’s actually a slang term for secret accounts that some teens create to limit the audience of certain posts.
Sen. Blumental asked Davis about “finsta towards the end of the hearing (at the 2:44:50 mark in the publicly available webcast). A clip of the interaction, uploaded by news curation editor Eric Morrow of BuzzFeed News, began to circulate on Twitter.
—Eric Morrow (@morroweric) September 30, 2021
“Finsta” (fake Instagram) is a slang term used to refer to smaller, side accounts that people — Frequently teenagers — make on Instagram. The accounts are typically used to broadcast content for small audiences like close friends, as opposed to sharing information or photos with wider audiences on users’ main accounts that could be followed by acquaintances or family members. “Finsta “is not a Facebook product, nor a clearly demarcated feature on Instagram — it’s simply a secondary account that people create, which has become a cultural trend.
“We don’t actually do’finsta.’ What’finsta’ refers to is young people setting up accounts where they may want to have more privacy,” Davis said, explaining that finstas aren’t necessary made to secure privacy from parents, but rather to limit audiences in certain cases.
“‘Finsta’ is one of your products or services. We’re not talking about Google, or Apple, it’s Facebook, correct?” Blumenthal asked.
Davis explained again that the term is slang for a particular kind of account, to which Sen. Blumenthal asked again if Facebook would commit to ending them.
“I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re asking,” Davis said.
Blumenthal had previously opened a line of questioning regarding “finstas” during the hearing, saying that they were frequently created with the intent to “avoid parents’ oversight” and alleging that Facebook was “monetizing kids deceiving their parents,” raising concerns regarding parental oversight .
The hearing, convened by Sen. Blumenthal, who is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, came in the wake Wall Street Journal investigation that revealed that Facebook knew the impact that its photo-sharing and commerce platform Instagram had on teen girls. In a blog post, Facebook argued against the Journal’s characterization of the research that formed the basis for the story. On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published six of the documents it based its investigation on.
The Wall Street Journal reported that internal Facebook research documents said that “teens’ growing use of secondary accounts and’Finstas’ suggest a strong market product fit for exploring different sides of themselves and interests.”