Opinion: Finsta – social media’s newest toxicity

Instagram logo in space grey iPhone 6. Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.

Maybe you’ve heard young, trendy kids talking about it. Or maybe you’ve had the pleasure of scrolling through one. I’m talking about Finstas – the latest social media craze.

The term Finsta comes from a combination of the words fake and Instagram. A Finsta is an account that someone has on Instagram on which they post things they usually wouldn’t on their real account.

Usually, someone only allows a relatively small amount of people to follow their Finsta. Small being 60-70 people, as compared to hundreds of followers that one’s real account might have.

Finstas were created as a way for people to express the parts of themselves they would not on their Rinsta – their real Instagram account. One might not want to post an awkward selfie or pictures of a wild night on an account that future employers might see, so having a Finsta creates a safe space to post such content.

It is understandable why one might want to have a Finsta – it creates a place to be able to share what a user might feel is a more accurate portrayal of their life.

First, I think this shows the artificial nature of current social media, since people feel they have to make new accounts in order to maintain a specific image on their real account.

Second, I think that, while Finstas can be a good platform for expression, they can easily turn into breeding grounds for toxic behavior.

It is understandable that many feel that they need a Finsta in order to express themselves in ways that are taboo in traditional social media. However, Finstas lead people to feel as though they can post whatever they want.

The freedom that comes from the anonymity of a Finsta also leads people to feel that there will be no repercussions from their actions. It is common for people to ‘call someone out’ on their Finsta – this can include calling someone out by name and sharing information about that person on Finsta.

People, though they might not intend to be, can come incredibly close to cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can consist of, “sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else.” When people feel that they can share anything about another person – and be protected in doing so – it is more likely to lead to harassing behavior.

This can create more toxic behavior as it encourages people to dwell on negative parts of their life and share slanderous information about others. People feel as though they can share personal information about another person and still be protected by the privacy of their Finsta.

Not only do people feel emboldened to share negative information about others on their Finsta, they are also likely to share images of them doing questionable and potentially illegal things.

The tendency of users to share risky behavior on Finstas has resulted in real-life consequences. For example, a student was expelled from the University of Alabama after posting a video of herself using numerous racial slurs to her Finsta.

This event also shows that the supposed secrecy of Finstas might not be so protective. People can easily screenshot a Finsta post and share it with others – as was the case with the student at the University of Alabama.

Obviously, people who want to engage in hate speech will probably do so without the presence of Finsta. However, the accounts give people a platform to espouse their views and allows them to feel protected while doing so.

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