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A US Senator thought ‘finsta’ was an official Facebook feature

He then said the company must now ‘commit to ending finsta’

A US Senator has mistaken the term ‘finsta’ for an official Facebook feature during a hearing on research into the impact of Instagram on young girls. 

The role of the Senate in such hearings is to hold tech giants, like Facebook, to account, and ensure they protect users and their data. Instead, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut asked Facebook’s Global Head of Safety, Antigone Davis, if the company would “commit to ending finsta”.

Mr Davis responded: “We don’t actually do ‘finsta’. What ‘finsta’ refers to is young people setting up accounts where they may want to have more privacy.”

Continuing his line of questioning, Blumenthal then asked: “‘Finsta’ is one of your products or services. We’re not talking about Google, or Apple, it’s Facebook, correct?”

“I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re asking,” Davis said.

The hearing followed a Wall Street Journal investigation that revealed Facebook was aware of the damaging impact Instagram had on teenage girls. It claimed the company’s own in-depth research showed a significant mental health issue among its teenage users that it deliberately plays down in public. 

Facebook argued against the findings in a blog post, saying: “Instagram’s research shows that on 11 of 12 well-being issues, teenage girls who said they struggled with those difficult issues also said that Instagram made them better rather than worse.”

The internal documents also stated that “teens’ growing use of secondary accounts and ‘Finstas’ suggest a strong market product fit (a high proportion of teenagers have alt accounts) for exploring different sides of themselves and interests.”

Watch the video of Senator Blumenthal below.