Senator’s cringeworthy ‘finsta’ question comes back to haunt him as John Oliver jokes and Facebook apps go down

Senator Richard Blumenthal asked a baffled Facebook official if they would commit to ending ‘finsta’

Nathan Place
New York
Tuesday 05 October 2021 00:21
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Confused senator demands end of 'finsta'
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Comedian John Oliver joined the bandwagon of mockery towards US senator Richard Blumenthal’s clueless question about Facebook-owned Instagram. And the outage of Facebook-owned apps shone the spotlight anew on the US senator’s seeming misunderstanding of how young people use the internet.

. On Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight, the host pointed out that just as Mr Blumenthal demanded the end of finsta, an aide could be seen in the background visibly cringing.

“That is the expression of someone who knows they’re going to have to stay late tonight explaining to their boss yet again what finsta is, but also what Twitter is, and why he’s getting roasted on it,” Oliver said.

At last week’s Senate hearing on the impacts of social media on teenagers’ mental health, one question caught the internet’s attention.

“Will you commit to ending ‘finsta’?” Senator Richard Blumenthal asked Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety.

Ms Davis looked baffled. “Finsta” is not, as the senator seemed to believe, an official product from Facebook or Instagram, but a slang term for a fake Instagram account someone might use to obscure their identity.

“Senator, again, let me explain,” Ms 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.”

The senator persisted.

“Finsta is one of your products or services,” Mr Blumenthal said, incorrectly. “We’re not talking about Google or Apple. It’s Facebook, correct?”

“Finsta is slang for a type of account,” Ms Davis explained patiently.

“Ok, will you end that type of account?” the Connecticut Democrat demanded.

“We – I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re asking,” Ms Davis stammered.

The exchange quickly drew ridicule on Twitter at the time. And on Monday, Snapchat’s Peter Hamby joked that Facebook had, indeed, taken down Finsta admist the company’s widespread outage.

Other journalists joined in the fun.

The Independent has reached out to Mr Blumenthal’s office for comment, but has not heard back yet.

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