Are finstas really as private as we think?

Maria Maroko

Scrolling through someone’s instagram is fairly routine: you can expect to find selfies, pictures of family and friends, and even the occasional inoffensive joke. However, when it comes to the subject of so-called fake instas, or “finstas”, you find a variety of much more interesting content, from ranting to venting too far more inappropriate humor. While on one’s official instagram account you may see the surface, a finsta reveals the true character of the owner.

It is common for many instagram users – mainly teenagers – to have “finstas”, a separate instagram account that is usually followed only by the speaker’s close friends. Urban Dictionary states that the finsta is “… a combination of the words Fake & Insta(gram). When people have a finsta they post pictures they only want their closest friends seeing instead of their regular instagram (insta) followers to see”The general rule is that things that are not suitable for one’s main instagram account (memes, jokes and venting), often go onto the finsta, whereas more professional posts go onto the real insta, or “rinsta”.

Finstas are generally used for self expression: they are a place to share things with your close friends that you would generally not share with your rinsta, in which oftentimes strangers follow you. In finstas, people often rant or vent about their problems, or display a more unique (and sometimes more politically incorrect) sense of humor. In other words, a finsta is supposedly a place where you can be yourself.

Some people worry about the use of finstas, arguing that posting risky things online is never a good idea, despite the perceived safety of a finsta. Others argue that it’s only harmless fun, and a good way to express yourself. The truth lies somewhere in between: while finstas are not necessarily harmful, common rules of online etiquette should still be followed.

One flaw within the concept of finstas is that nothing posted online is ever completely private. When you post on Instagram, there is the possibility that your post could be reported, which means that an employee would have to screen your post for harmful content, even if the post is totally benign. Colleges are another entity besides your family and friends that looks at your instagram: many colleges (35% of college officers, according to a poll by U.S. News), look at your instagram to judge whether you are a good fit for their school. They may not see your finsta if it is set to private, but it is important to remember some colleges will judge you based on your social media.

Someone could easily screenshot a finsta post and send it to a parent, employer, or other potential prominent figure in your life. According to Be Web Smart: “…any photo or video posted to a finsta account is out of your control the moment you post it….” and that “…a so called friend could always take a screenshot and share outside your inside circle”.

The risks associated with web safety do not necessarily mean that a finsta is an entirely bad idea. Since Instagrams are usually looked at by potential employers,  teens usually feel pressured to create a perfect-looking Instagram. Because of this, it can be hard for teens to express themselves on their insta, hence the need for a second “fake” Instagram account.

On this finsta, teens can express themselves online to a group of close friends and family. As long as nothing too risky is posted, there is no reason a finsta cannot be an enjoyable experience. So yes, while a finsta can be quite a different experience from a rinsta, as long as the person in charge of the finsta is responsible with their content, there is no reason a finsta has to be any more dangerous.