What is a finsta?
In the constantly changing world of social media, a new norm has sprung up: the “finsta.” Many Loyola students use these “fake Instagram” accounts in addition to their primary accounts to post incriminating or embarrassing pictures of themselves and friends that they don’t want certain people (such as family members or future employers) seeing. Pictures can range from goofy selfies to pictures of parties and drinking.
Why do people use finstas?
Junior nursing major Jessie Jankoski said she created a second Instagram account to post pictures of herself she finds weird or funny.
“I’m an embarrassing person and I feel like it was the perfect way to display who I am,” said the 21-year-old.
Sophomore Alex Watts, 19, said he uses his finsta to post various pictures about music, art or interesting things he sees that he can’t post on his regular account because of family followers.
“I feel like my finsta is just a much better representation of myself. And I barely use my normal one to begin with because I have family and friends from everywhere following and it just always felt like a lot of pressure,” said the film and digital media major.
How secure are “private” accounts?
Florence Chee, assistant professor of digital communication at Loyola, said that finstas can create “a false sense of security,” because the privacy feature doesn’t necessarily keep posts from being seen by unwanted viewers.
“Finstas to me don’t strike me as a great idea,” said Chee. “You probably can guess that if you have a finsta … your idea of an audience to your posts may be very different from the actual reality of your audience or your intended audience.”
Chee warned that people who follow these accounts can screenshot the photos and send them to other people. She compared it to the “extreme example” of revenge porn — when trusted individuals later expose people with incriminating photos or videos.
“If you share compromising photos with your trusted and intended audience one moment the situation could change … people change, situations change,” Chee said.
Sophomore Jacob Trivedi, 19, who uses his finsta to post pictures for comedic value, said that he doesn’t post any compromising pictures both because he doesn’t do those things and because employers could see it.
“You’ve always got to monitor what you’re putting online, whether it’s your actual [account] or your finsta,” said the nursing major. “Whatever you put up, someone can always find it.”
Junior Nick Morales, 21, acknowledged the danger of finstas being exposed to an unintended audience.
Morales said that while he uses his finsta to post pictures for comedic effect as an inside joke with his close friends, he’s also seen people post pictures of them out drinking.
“Some people may be making it private for precautionary measures, but it essentially doesn’t translate to saying it’s only private,” said the health systems management major. “You still have all these people who can tell other people in a sense. So … it could be taken too far sometimes.”
Chee advised people to increase their concept of privacy and media literacy by reading the terms of agreement before they sign up for accounts.