Opinion

Finsta accounts are on the rise, but what is a Finsta?

By Laura Box

Published Sep 12, 2019 at 10:30 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes


Social media

Sep 12, 2019

What is a finsta?

In an attempt to reclaim privacy, intimacy, honesty, and humour, ‘finsta’, or fake Instagram, is freeing Instagrammers from public scrutiny and encouraging free, unfiltered sharing with their closest friends.

An ambiguous username, paired with a nondescript photo, private account settings and often less than 100 followers are recurring characteristics of finstas. Usually the secret sister account to users’ main, public accounts, the trend was started among influencers and gen Z with a similar goal in mind: privacy. For influencers, it was a matter of having an account without tens of thousands of people watching and criticising their every move. For gen Z, and increasingly for millennials, the reasons are more nuanced.

Artist, writer, and Slanted House Collective co-founder Ruhi Amin, says her finsta lets her feel a sense of freedom when posting content. “I realised how curated my Instagram was becoming due to the fact that my family and certain other individuals follow me on therealso because now insta is a means via which people find jobs or connect with other like-minded individuals, we don’t necessarily feel complete liberation when posting,” says Amin. “That’s why I made my finsta, so that I felt totally free and at ease when uploading content that is truly me,” she adds, “There’s no hesitation and I upload these images purely for myself, not because I want to appease a specific niche or crowd.” As a result, finstas present a more raw and unedited version of the account holder and posts are more likely to be spur of the moment rather than well thought out, acting as ‘a cathartic digital release’.

For many, finstas also act as a rejection of Instagram’s consumer-focused algorithm, as finsta-owners are less likely to follow influencers and brands. They also reject social media as a form of social capital and validation: images aren’t posted to gain significant likes, and private profiles mean followers can be kept to the bare minimum. The freedom that this provides is particularly enticing for queer people and women of colour, according to Amin.

“I’ve noticed that when it comes to queer people and POC women, or women in general, they voice their opinions a lot more openly on their finstas. Whether this is due to fear of being fought back against in the comments on their regular insta, I don’t know, but there’s a general sense of safety within your own personal finsta,” says Amin.

As the negative impacts of social media on mental health become more acknowledged, from the manipulation of users by capitalising on human need for social connection to the addiction causing mechanisms ingrained in the app (to the extent that Instagram has started trialing hiding likes in certain countries) it is fair to question whether creating a second account and spending more time on networking apps is actually productive.

Finstas, though, appear to have a contrasting effect when compared to their ‘rinsta’ counterparts. Behaviours commonly acknowledged to cause negative mental health impacts on Instagram, such as the constant comparison to other people, the need to present a perfect, curated version of yourself, and the inability to be completely truthful with your followers become obsolete on finsta.

“My Finsta has genuinely helped me express certain emotions I’ve been going through during the past few months,” shares Amin. “I woke up the other morning feeling anxious as hell about a past relationship and my direction in life, so I decided to post a finsta about it and I kid you not, felt 12 times better immediately after. It’s so weird that social media can do that, huh?”

Without the stress of strangers, colleagues, potential employers, exes, and family watching you, a sense of freedom is gained and the former stress that many people feel on Instagram becomes negated.

While some might argue that avoiding Instagram altogether is the best way to get privacy, avoid fear of public backlash, and be the truest version of yourself, it’s not so easy in a world that is increasingly geared towards social media and fostering an online presence. Finsta is a rejection of the most negative parts of the traditional Instagram, allowing expression within the constraints of an inherently flawed platform.

Keep On Reading

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

What is the viral red nail theory and does it actually work?

By Charlie Sawyer

Influencer claims if you don’t tattoo your boyfriend’s name on your forehead, you don’t love him

By Charlie Sawyer

Is the internet finally falling out of love with Emma Chamberlain?

By Abby Amoakuh

Shoplifting addiction is at an all-time high. And white middle-class women are to blame

By Abby Amoakuh

Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s secret Hawaiian apocalypse bunker and the doomsday conspiracy behind it

By Abby Amoakuh

Controversial video chat site Omegle shuts down after mounting child abuse allegations

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Who is Timhouthi Chalamet? The Yemini mystery man touring captured cargo boats in the Red Sea

By Abby Amoakuh

UK cracks down on boycott protests with controversial new bill, but is the BDS movement to blame?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Problematic Christmas songs you probably shouldn’t sing anymore

By Charlie Sawyer

An acoustic guitar and the first chords of Wonderwall aka every girl’s worst dating nightmare

By Bianca Borissova

What role did Mormons, momfluencers and pre-teen girls play in the current Stanley Cup craze?

By Charlie Sawyer

Dua Lipa fan and Nicki Minaj fan get into a real-life standoff over internet beef

By Charlie Sawyer

Deepfake videos of Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez used in elaborate Le Creuset online scam

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Gen Z on TikTok are quitting vaping in solidarity with Congo

By Charlie Sawyer

Why is Amish TikToker Sarah Joy being questioned on her religion?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Machine Gun Kelly officially changed his name after fans pointed out its problematic issue

By Abby Amoakuh

Why is Huda Beauty being boycotted? Here’s a breakdown of founder Huda Kattan’s numerous controversies

By Abby Amoakuh

As cities wage a war on wee, the UK public toilet crisis intensifies

By Abby Amoakuh

RuPaul’s new online bookstore Allstore removes anti-trans and far-right books following controversy

By Abby Amoakuh

Europe still sterilises disabled women despite the practice being a human rights violation