Videos of Richard Blumenthal's 'Finsta' Remarks Viewed 6 Million Times

Footage of Senator Richard Blumenthal asking a Facebook executive if the company would commit to ending "finstas"—fake Instagram accounts—has gone viral after he was wrongly accused of failing to understand the slang term.

Blumenthal, a Democratic lawmaker from Connecticut, was taking part in a Senate hearing about internet safety on Thursday when he described finstas as "one of your products or services" in a question to Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety.

Davis responded by telling him that "finsta" was a slang term for a fake or second Instagram account set up by a teenager, rather than something the company offered on its photo-sharing app.

Clips of this exchange have been watched more than 2.7 million times on Twitter and over 3.6 million times on TikTok—prompting a number of social media users and news sites to criticize Blumenthal for not understanding finstas or Instagram.

However, the senator had accurately described finstas earlier in the hearing, explaining that his concern was that the accounts could be created by teenagers without the knowledge of their parents.

@cleoabram from the Senate hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online” #learnontiktok ♬ will you commit to ending Finsta - Cleo Abram

NBC reported that Blumenthal also told the hearing his office had created its own finsta posing as a 13-year-old girl, in order to research how the platform's algorithms could affect the mental health of teenagers.

"Instagram's recommendations will still latch on to a person's insecurities, a young woman's vulnerabilities about their bodies and drag them into dark places that glorify eating disorders and self-harm," Blumenthal said.

In the section of the hearing that went viral, Blumenthal also clarified his original question by asking Davis if Facebook intended to scrap second Instagram accounts.

Just another indication that Senators do not understand Instagram: "Will you commit to ending 'Finsta'" 🤦‍♂️ #senatehearing

— Lance Ulanoff (@LanceUlanoff) September 30, 2021

"Will you commit to ending finsta?" Blumenthal asked at the start of the viral footage.

Davis replied: "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.

"In my interaction with teens, what I found is that they sometimes like to have an account where they can interact just with their, with a smaller group of friends."

Blumenthal said: "Finsta is one of your products or services. We're not talking about Google or Apple. It's Facebook, correct?"

"Finsta is slang for a type of account," Davis replied.

"OK, will you end that type of account?" Blumenthal asked.

"I'm not sure I understand exactly what you're asking," Davis responded. "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."

The clip ended with Blumenthal stating: "Well, I don't think that's an answer to my question"—sparking hilarity from some social media users.

After the footage went viral, another Twitter user posted a video from earlier in the hearing, showing Blumenthal accurately describing finstas and accusing Facebook of prioritizing engagement over children's safety. He said the company was "monetizing kids deceiving their parents."

Here Senator Blumenthal perfectly explains what "finstas" are (fake instas). He's seen documents from the FB whistleblower which indicates FB sees a business proposition in users creating second, private accounts sometimes without the knowledge of parents. THIS IS IMPORTANT.

— Zamaan Qureshi (@zamaan_qureshi) September 30, 2021

The senator said: "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.

"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 added: "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."

Last year, many social media users reported that Instagram was encouraging them to create an extra account to "Keep Up With a Smaller Group of Friends."

Newsweek has contacted Blumenthal for comment.

Richard Blumenthal finsta
Senator Richard Blumenthal (2R) listens during a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security on Capitol Hill on September 30. Tom Brenner / POOL / AFP/Getty Images

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