Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently testified on Capitol Hill that his company was giving personal users’ data to third party. Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica. Meanwhile, Facebook users between 12 to 24 have precipitated significant drops in their use of the site in the past year. This shortage is only expected to increase as Mr. Zuckerberg finishes up his testimony, but one social media platform that is not showing signs of decreasing anytime soon is the unofficial subcategory of Instagram, the Finsta. A “Finsta” is a separate Instagram account that users make separate from their real account, or “Rinsta.” Typically, the two accounts are significantly different from each other, even though they are run by the same person.
Consider the Rinsta to be the public and professional persona of a person, insofar as this is something that family members, colleagues, and potential employers have the possibility to stumble upon one day. Rinstas, for example, are commonly labeled with the official user’s name–or some stylized variation of it–no tricks.
A Finsta, on the other hand, gives its audience a much more untraditional social media experience. Users seldom have their actual name associated anywhere on the account and are almost always on the private setting. A Finsta is often easily identifiable, including a bio surging with emoji’s, vulgar vocabulary, and not to mention copious sex and drug references. Finsta users are almost always on the private setting to avoid the watchful eyes of their parents, and users choose who is allowed into this private world. Only their select friends are usually allowed in because of the content posted on these seemingly meaningless, but ultimately volatile accounts. But just because an account has 50 Finsta followers doesn’t mean that only 50 people have seen what was posted. Once the post is made it has the potential to reach anyone and everyone.
I sat down with a few popular Finsta users at the school and wanted to get a better understanding of why they made these posts. I granted the interviewees confidentiality in order to get the hard truth. All except one, senior Cade Coughlin, wanted their name to remain private. Coughlin added, “I consider my Finsta my real Instagram. I made it to show people what they want to see. I only let people who ask me in person follow me.”
Why did you make a Finsta?
“To post funny pictures in my camera roll and follow other people’s Finsta”
“I don’t know–I just feel like it was my personality to have one.”
“I think I made a Finsta because a lot of my friends were doing it, and I thought theirs were funny and I had a lot of pictures and funny stories on my own to share.”
Who do you let follow your Finsta?
“Just people I’m friends with that have a similar sense of humor.”
“I let my close friends follow my Finsta, along with other Finsta accounts because there is sort of a Finsta culture where you become friends with people through following their Finsta.”
“I only let people I know well and trust follow my Finsta.”
What do you post on here that you don’t want to be seen on the Rinsta?
“I post some inappropriate memes and sometimes photos and videos of me or my friends drunk or high that I can’t really put on my normal Instagram without my family disowning me.”
“I post things that I’m pissed off about, usually a pic of me sitting in bed pissed off or I will post something funny that is not aesthetically pleasing to my actual Instagram.”
“I post embarrassing pictures and videos of me and my friends. A lot of my posts are things that I don’t think people would care about if they didn’t know me well. There are also just unspoken rules of the ‘gram, such as no spamming on your feed.”
Are you concerned that more than just your followers have seen your Finsta posts?
“I don’t post anything bad about other people so I’m not too concerned anyone else has seen my Finsta. If anyone else saw it they probably would just think I’m weird.”
“Oh ya. I’ve considered deleting my Finsta several times. I’ve personally gotten in some trouble with my Finsta posts on a few different occasions. Screenshots can be very dangerous. At the end of the day, snitches will be snitches. My Finsta is my Finsta. Sometimes I post offensive things, but that’s just part of my humor. That’s why I post my opinions on my Finsta and not my Rinsta. If you don’t agree with me, unfollow me. People take Finsta posts way too seriously and often blow them out of proportion. 99% of the time, I’m not serious, and if you know me well enough to follow my Finsta, you should know that I’m joking. If you got a screenshot, it obviously wasn’t meant for you. For example, there was a severe incident earlier this semester where someone screenshotted one of my posts, reposted it on their Rinsta out of context, and called the picture of my friend racist. It was blown out of proportion and was not the original intention at all. Nowadays, people get offended no matter what, so why not fuel the fire.”
Would you let your parents follow your Finsta? Why?
“I would never let my parents follow my Finsta because the humor is not parent friendly and that would just be weird.”
“No! Because there is dumb stuff on there that I wouldn’t want them to see also I don’t want them in my business.”
“No. There are just certain things they don’t need to know about my life. We have a healthy relationship, and I’d like to keep it that way. There are just some conversations you never want to talk to your parents about, and all of people’s Finsta posts would be included in that.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on a Finsta?
“I’ve seen my friends shotgunning beers in their showers and smoking weed in their cars.”
“I’ve seen people from out of school eating Tide pods. That was wild.”
“I’d say the craziest thing I’ve seen might be on my account of this girl snorting cocaine.”