A Finsta is slang term for a fake Instagram account. Teens and tweens rampantly started making these accounts after older generations (and parents) joined their favorite social media platforms. Finstas have became a perfect venue for cyberbullying. They allow a person to hide their identity, as tracing an account back to its creator is very difficult without some serious sleuthing. Using Finstas therefore gives the perception of no accountability for one’s actions.
Cyberbullies can simply create a fake account, troll their victims, not get caught, and keep trolling. It is no wonder why one in three teens will experience cyberbullying in their lives. With its growing prevalence, parents and educators would do well to be aware of the workings of this darker side of the social media world.
Want to learn more? Read our Must Know Cyberbullying Facts posts.
Who Uses Finstas?
Consensus says teenage girls are the most frequent creators Finstas, although boys do too. The reality is that probably most teenagers use Finstas, even if they deny it.
Kids who create Finstas often want their peers to know who they are – just not adults. To hide Finstas from adults, young people will often make an account name with sexually explicit words weaved in with their real name. Some aren’t so subtle, using their name and the the word Finsta. Peers can guess who the handle belongs to based on their name, who account users “follow,” the pictures they post, and what accounts they comment on.
The Finsta’s biggest draw is the lack of traceability and accountability. While kids have made fake accounts on Facebook, Snapchat, and other venues, people can trace posts on these other venues back to the account creator. Currently, out of the social media options, the Finsta is the surest way to not be traced.
The Finsta is also mutable. If adults end up catching their kids with a Finsta account, they can easily change their handle names with the appearance of having deleted the account.
There are a lot of reasons why teens and tweens seek that freedom. The more innocent just want to post embarrassing pictures of themselves and share that privately with select friends. They feel too much societal pressure to do that publicly on their real Instagram accounts (called Rinstas), where they always put their best face forward.
Teens and tweens thereby even treat their fake accounts as a quasi-private journal. But sometimes, with a little peer pressure, this is where cyberbullying starts. Young people may start to post embarrassing or hurtful things about another person, thinking nothing of it because the posts are seen only by their “real friends.” However, anyone can take a screenshot and share it, which is what often happens. Posting something hurtful is no different than whispering directly behind someone’s back – and targets will usually find out if they were the subject of Finsta posts.
There are also bullies who consciously post malicious things on their victims’ accounts. These Finsta bullies create accounts for the specific purpose of targeting others.
Read more about what is called sub-tweeting, a passive-aggressive form of cyberbullying, here.
How Does Finsta Use Devolve Into Cyberbullying?
The short answer to this is peer pressure.
Without monitoring, teens and tweens play this social game of embracing an alter-ego in a lawless and ruleless world. Alter-egos are often a stark contrast to their “real” selves, embodying an element of outrageousness. And when everyone seems to be crossing boundaries, no one thinks what they say could really be offensive. Outside of the cyber world, they seem to blow off their meanness by saying they were “just kidding.”
What To Do About Finstas
The best way to find out about and address Finsta accounts with your kids is to simply ask. You can even use this article as a starting point! Saying, “Today I read an article about Finstas, a fake profile that is used to post pictures deemed not as good as the ones posted to real Instagram accounts. I also ready how Finsta accounts can be used to cyberbully. Do you know anyone who has a Finsta account? Do you have one?” Explain how using a Finsta account to sub-tweet or secretly dis another person is still cyberbullying. Let them know that you do not want them to have a Finsta because you are concerned about their safety online and don’t want them to become a target for cyberbullying.
You can use your new knowledge of Finstas to create or update your family technology contract. This is an agreement between you and your kids on appropriate device usage. We even have one you can download, discuss, print, and sign with your child. Sign up for Bark and add our monitoring as part of your family technology contract. Explain you are using Bark as a tool to help ensure their safety online.
Parents can also take a more serious approach if they find Finstas have become an avenue for cyberbullying and/or unwanted sexting against your kids. In most states, cyberbullying is illegal conduct. In all states, sexting is illegal. Additionally, every state but Montana also mandates schools to institute policies for taking disciplinary action against bullying.
Finding a Finsta can be indicative of something serious going on; however, that is not always the case. In the event that it is, there are many resources you can turn to: the authorities, the school board, forums, and our services.
Read up on 8 Tips to Protect Your Children From Cyberbullying.