Finstagram… Is it for you?

Last week, the New York Times wrote an article about the new social media trend of creating “fake” personal Instagram accounts. In contrast to your day-to-day Instagram filled with smiling, edited photos, your “Finstagram” would be a private social media page shared with only your close friends and family.

How many hours cumulatively have we all spent editing pictures and thinking of clever captions? Most likely, way too many.

sm likes

The appeal of the Finstagram lies in not having the pressure of being “perfect” on social media. I’ve never had a Finstagram but in a similar fashion, one of my best friends from home, Steph, created a fake Facebook when her school’s sorority recruitment period prohibited usage of her regular account. Compared to the 1,632 friends on Steph’s personal account, the new account had merely 26. This 98% decrease in friends highlights one of the realities of social media—the number of “friends” you have on social media is significantly higher than the number of people you genuinely care about and want to stay in contact with in “real life”.

On Steph’s fake Facebook, we got to see shamelessly unedited photos of her tailgating, studying, and going out adventures without the staged feeling you would typically find on her real Facebook. Without the pressure of essentially 1,606 strangers viewing her posts, there was no need to conform to social media norms and present an idealized version of her life. It was a hilarious way for us to keep in touch with Steph while she could also keep in touch with her real friends on social media.

With the advent of Finstagrams, however, there has been a question of why not just use Snapchat? Snapchat is also a private platform that allows for more genuine posts due to its short nature that (technically) has fewer consequences for anything regrettable or embarrassing. This question brings to light the differences in each social media platform’s goal.

Facebook and Instagram share the ability to accumulate photos and create a history of your experiences while Snapchat is only about temporary sharing. Going on someone’s Facebook or Instagram profile means being able to look at photos curated by the user that could date back to as recent as last night or as far back as five years ago. On these two platforms you can engage with your friends with no limitations on captions or comments. On the other hand, Snapchat only provides a platform for 10-second moments and condensed captions. If my friend were to send a memorable Snapchat, it would be gone within the 10 seconds it was sent or 24 hours it was on his or her story. I do have the option of taking a screenshot but then the burden of storing memorable photos relies on me rather than the platform. The screenshotted photos end up on my phone’s storage instead of the social media platform’s storage.

sorry snapchat

One of the beauties of social media is its ability to effectively act as free online cloud storage. I no longer need to save photos of my friends on my phone because if I want to reminisce on memories we had together, I can just go on a social media platform to do so.

Another counterargument to Finstagrams is the question of why do you even need a fake Instagram to show your true self? We could all just post genuine photos on our real accounts to circumvent the need for a supplementary account. I wish I could commit to doing so but at least personally, I don’t think I’d have the courage to post embarrassing photos to all 800+ Facebook friends I currently have.

Finstagrams are certainly an interesting topic but at least for now, it almost seems like creating one would mean more work for me. For Steph, it was an easy and enjoyable experience because her fake account was temporarily replacing her actual account. But for anyone else, that fake account would have to be in addition to existing accounts.

So what does everyone think, would you create a Finstagram?



  1. Interesting post here. I was not previously aware of Finstagram accounts, but the idea of having a fake or revamped social media platform is not something I am completely unfamiliar with. In terms of my opinions on such pages, I am torn. On one hand, I think you raised some good points about creating an intimate space to connect with those you wish to on a more personal level. You are aware of exactly who will be viewing the content you put out, and this content will likely be more personal than if you were utilizing a traditional social media page. On the other hand, I think this could have a cyclical effect. Sure they may start out as small and intimate spaces, but they are likely to expand. When I started on social media, I made it a rule to only be friends with and follow those whom I knew well. As time moved on, I became less strict with my connections, and before I knew it I had over 1,000 Facebook friends, many of whom I rarely see. Perhaps our revived character created on our new accounts will become something we gradually want to share with more people. While I understand the rationale behind fake accounts, I see this as more of a trend rather than a permanent thing.

  2. Very interesting take! I don’t know many people have fake accounts but I understand that you can’t post embarassing things for everyone to see. It makes me think of how we have work/school e-mail vs our personal email. Maybe the future is not having fake accounts but rather managing multiple accounts that are open to select circles.
    I like your point on how the number of Facebook friends is not representative of ones actualy number of friends. I feel like when I was growing up, kids really stressed having a lot of Facebook friends. Now it just leads to clutter. I think the shift has now become to have a filtered network with only the people you want to share with, and people you want to see share. No one wants their feed to be cluttered with nonsense. I just started an instragram and only added people I know well, all the posts become more enjoyable and less clutter is involved; wish I did that with my facebook!

  3. Personally, I like to believe that my current social media pages are already “Finstagrams.” I don’t really care how I appear on my pages, I only add people I know, and they’re sufficiently private that people outside of my network can’t see anything that could hurt my job/graduate school searches – not that I think I have any material like that. Like your friend Steph, I too was told that I was supposed to use my social media in a particular way once I joined. I found that our sorority leadership also had “Finstagrams.” I just ignored them, and whenever I got in trouble, I would send them pictures from their “Finstagrams” of them doing exactly what I got in trouble for. I guess the moral of the story is nothing is ever private enough to be completely invisible on the internet – so a “Finstagram” loses its effect. Not to mention, pretending to be perfect on social media would be way too difficult for me- I’m way too weird to come off as effortlessly cool. That’s a personal problem, though.

  4. I had never heard of Finstagram until now, but it is an interesting topic. I can see why people would create a Finstagram, but for me I just post those types of photos in a group chat with my close friends. Nowadays people have to be especially careful with the content they post, so a fake account makes sense. In reality, I would never go to the effort and time to create a fake account, but instead I just sensor the information I am putting on Instagram. And while the idea of Finstagrams keeps information more private, by merely putting information out on the web, people can access the content. With Snapchat and now Finstagram, I think we are seeing a trend around increasing privacy levels of social media. I also remember reading about Facebook trying out a disappearing message feature with their messenger app, so I will be interested to watch the progression of this trend.

  5. Haha Finstagram, this is interesting! Puneet shared an article earlier as well about being able to switch between your different Instagram accounts seamlessly now, so maybe Instagram is supporting these “fake” accounts? I think each social media platform is best for a different group of friends. For example, I have by far the most friends on Facebook, where I rarely share updates and rely on its “timeline” view for seeing what other people have been up to, getting a view of my own pictures overtime, and things like that. The News Feed on Facebook is honestly more news articles than updates about friends anyway, and you’re expected to “keep in touch” with almost everyone you’ve ever met through Facebook. Then on Instagram, I have a much more limited group of friends. I share content much more frequently on Instagram and consume that content much more as well, because I only follow friends that I am more interested. Then on Snapchat, I have an even closer group of friends- and I only send personal snapchats to the people I am absolutely closest with. I think there are benefits of having a Facebook will only a handful of friends, for example, but why not just use something like Snapchat in that case? There are social media platforms out there already for more limited audiences; I think its just confusing to have multiple accounts for the same person on the same platform haha!

  6. I had no idea “Finstagrams” were a growing trend. I like the idea of a more intimate sharing group but at the same time I feel like having yet another account would personally add to my social media stress. Constantly having to switch between the two accounts sound tiring and easy to mix up. Your points about Snapchat are extremely valid. However just this past weekend Snapchat released a new “pretty filter” that smooths skin and widens eyes. Perhaps I am reading too far into this new addition, but it seems to me that snapchat users must be feeling the pressure to look perfect on Snapchat as well even though their pictures are only seen for 10 seconds or the maximum 24 hours. I imagine this is because it has become easier and easier to screenshot snapchats. Nonetheless, “Finstagrams” ultimately seems like a lot of extra work and only necessary for those who truly desire to have a perfect account. I can only see it being useful for a temporary amount of time like your friend did or for celebrities who have millions of followers and actually want to have a “normal” account for their true friends. Thanks for sharing this new social media insight!

  7. Hi Rebecca, thank you for sharing this interesting post! I had not yet heard of this phenomenon of “Finstagram” accounts, but I guess I can see its appeal. It could be a good vehicle to share photographs to friends and family that you would not necessarily want school authorities or potential employers to see (i.e that crazy Halloween costume or doing a keg stand at a fraternity party).

    I would not personally create a “Finstagram” account because as you had mentioned in your post, it takes up a lot of extra time. I do not feel compelled enough to spend more time and effort posting photographs on two different accounts when I can just post to one account and easily share with other social media platforms. If I do not feel like sharing certain/potentially embarrassing photographs with all of my followers/Facebook friends, I already have the option of sending private group messages on Instagram, Facebook and email.

    That being said, I can certainly see the appeal of “Finstagram” accounts for celebrities, who are constantly in the limelight facing the judgments of their fans and haters. I would not be surprised if several celebrities already use fake social media accounts as a means to stay in contact and share their life updates/photographs with their actual friends and family members, without having to worry about the prying public eyes.

  8. Very interesting post and even more interesting in light of the recent announcement (FINALLY) that Instagram is testing out support for multiple accounts on Android devices. This will finally enable us as users to easily develop multiple accounts for different aspects of our lives without the clumsy task of logging in and out of our different accounts. While the idea of a finstagram account is something I do appreciate as it gives a chance for people to be more honest with their online presence, the brutal truth is that we as society have created a situation where we feel it is fully necessary to perfect each post, status, and picture we put online. One can only hope that maybe instead of changing what social media accounts we use, we can change what we find as quality content for social.

  9. Interesting post, as I have never even heard of the trend “finstagram” before. I mean I am aware that people create fake accounts all the time for many different reasons. One of friends actually has an a fake account so that she can follow/stalk all of the people her and her friends wouldn’t otherwise be able to, such as ex-boyfriends, girls they don’t get along with, ex-hook ups, etc. Yes, I am aware that it is the stupidest thing ever. However, I haven’t heard of fake accounts in order to post real or “embarrassing” pictures. Like you mentioned, I thought that was meant for Snapchat. I think the whole concept is silly and almost a way to look for attention. If you are going to do something like that, then you should just be making those post on your “real” account. So no, I would not make a “finstagram.” Nice post!

  10. Doesn’t sound to me like a “fake” account, but different accounts for different purposes and audiences. I’ve had two Facebook accounts since about 2008, to separate students from other people. My roles is those communities are very different. Both are “real” but they represent different social requirements.

  11. Interesting post! I agree with Professor Kane in the sense that some accounts can just be for different uses. For instance, I have a personal Twitter, which I am embarrassed of and I have my Twitter that I use for this class. I also run the BC Football Special Teams Twitter where I try to take advantage of its followers with my own jokes. However, I do think it is a bit bizarre that some people tend to put on facades in social media in order to prove a point. Great post.

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