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Blumenthal rips FB exec for ‘finsta’ accounts, gets mocked over what the slang term actually means

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) was widely mocked and ridiculed for his usage of the slang term ‘finsta’” while questioning Facebook’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis on Thursday, despite the fact that he explained what it meant earlier during the hearing.

“Will you commit to ending ‘finsta?'” Blumenthal asked Davis.

“Senator, again, let me explain,” she began. “We don’t actually – we don’t actually do ‘finsta’.

“What ‘finsta’ refers to is young people setting up accounts where they may want to have more privacy,” she went on. “You referred to it as privacy from their parents. In my interaction with teens, what I’ve found is that they sometimes like to have an account where they can interact just with a smaller group of friends.”

(Video Credit: The Hill)

“Well, ‘finsta’ is one of your products or services,” Blumenthal accused. “We’re not talking about Google or Apple, it’s Facebook, correct?”

“‘Finsta’ is slang for a type of account,” Davis reiterated.

“OK, will you end that type of account?” Blumenthal demanded.

Davis responded, “I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re asking. What I can say is that based on what we’ve seen in terms of teens using those kinds of accounts, we’ve actually given them additional privacy options to address those kinds of issues, where they want more privacy so that they can have more privacy.”

“Well, I don’t think that’s an answer to my question,” Blumenthal concluded.

The senator said earlier in the hearing, “I want to talk about one major source of concern for parents. They are ‘finstas’. ‘Finstas’ are fake Instagram accounts. ‘Finstas’ are kids’ secret, second accounts. ‘Finstas’ often are intended to avoid parents’ oversight.”

“Facebook depends on teens for growth, Facebook knows that teens often are the most tech-savvy in the household,” he asserted. “But Facebook also knows that nearly every teen in the United States has an Instagram account. It can only add more users as fast as there are new 13-year-olds.”

He continued, “In multiple documents, Facebook describes these secret accounts as ‘a unique value proposition.’ It’s a growth strategy, a way to boost its monthly active user metric.”

“That active user metric is of great interest to your investors, to the markets. And it looks to me like it’s another case of prioritizing growth over children’s safety,” Blumenthal surmised.

A viral clip of the hearing made it appear as if Blumenthal did not know what the slang term meant. He was ruthlessly mocked on social media for it and even fact-checked by Urban Dictionary for what was originally perceived as an embarrassing gaffe. Clips of the exchange have been viewed more than 2.7 million times on Twitter and over 3.6 million times on TikTok according to Newsweek.

Although Blumenthal did explain what “finstas’ were during the Senate committee hearing, it is not a Facebook product that Facebook can eliminate. They would have to limit children’s accounts and require unique identity proof which would challenge privacy rights and restrict interaction on the platform.

The hearing addressed allegations that Facebook was aware of the negative impact of Instagram on teenage mental health. The Wall Street Journal reported that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, conducted research that showed it made “body image issues worse for one in three teen girls” and was detrimental to the mental health of female teen users.

Blumenthal, who is the head of the Senate’s Consumer Protection Subcommittee, has been a longtime critic of Facebook. He zeroed in on “finsta” accounts and the safety of children using the social media platform.

The accounts are ostensibly used to interact with smaller or different groups of people and they are utilized by more than just teens. Instagram allows individuals to have more than one account associated with an email address.

Despite Blumenthal indicating that he does know what “finstas” are, he was still slammed on social media:

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