Not a real Instagram account

‘Finstas’ allow outlet for expression


Shauna Pauli sits in her dorm room, her feet propped upon a wooden desk, staring at her phone as she scrolls through pictures on Instagram.

Selfie. Artistic landscape accompanied by an inspirational quote. Selfie. Fancy food.

Every day, over half a billion Instagram users share an average of 95 million posts.

Then a lackluster picture of a Jamba Juice cup and laptop materializes on the freshman’s feed from a friend’s account. The caption reads: “Can someone tell me why all I ever want to do is smoke weed lol?”

Pauli pays little attention and continues scrolling, coming across a different friend’s post, this time a Spongebob meme dominates the screen. This caption reads: “so my French prof totally ruined my plans for going home!!! He moved the date of the final to when i was supposed to have my flight!!!” Swear words decorate the end of the caption.

These are not spam Instagram accounts, nor have they been hacked. The pictures and captions were deliberately chosen and posted by the owners.

But these do not qualify as “real” Instagram accounts.

The posts belong to “Finsta,” or fake Instagram, which Pauli describes as “a smaller, personal community.”

Finsta accounts are typically a person’s second Instagram account, set on private to protect the content and possessing few followers. The content on Finsta ranges from memes and rants to bad videos and photos that would never appear on a person’s regular Instagram.

“It’s raw,” Pauli said. “On Instagram you see people living their best lives. My Instagram is an internet facade. I try to make my life look cool.”

Fellow freshman Coleman Peterson agrees.

“Everyone wants their presence to be something on social media,” he said. “A ‘Rinsta’ is more of a social thing. You want people to see how interesting your life is.”

Notice “Rinsta”—with a capital “R.” People who have a Finsta—with a capital “F”—need to differentiate between the two Instagram accounts. Rinsta clarifies a person’s actual, or “real,” Instagram account, the account accessible to the public.

“Rinsta is the more polished version of me—the me I would like to have a future employer look at—the acceptable me,” freshman Elizabeth Petersen said.        

Since most Finsta accounts are private, only a small number of followers approved by the owner can see the content.

“I think people use it as a sort of release,” Peterson said. “People want to share these things, but they have to do it on a platform that only certain people can see.”

Petersen has only 20 followers on her Finsta.

“I follow my close friends and my internet friends that I feel comfortable sharing with,” she said.  

Freshman Ellie Webb agrees.

“I usually just follow people that I know personally,” Webb said. “You can protect your Finsta pretty well.”     

Finsta, used for a variety of personal reasons, warrants protection and caution.

“I use my Finsta to post bad things [like] terrible pictures and funny videos,” Peterson said. “Some use their Finstas to post pictures while intoxicated or to document things done while drunk,” he said.

Pauli uses her Finsta as a diary.

“I talk about my emotions on Finsta,” she said. “I complain. My Finsta is for the caption, not the picture—I post really bad pictures. Sometimes I post selfies, but not good selfies.”

The captions serve as condensed blog posts.

“It’s like having a blog, but it’s less out there for the world to see,” Peterson said. “You can essentially blog about your feelings to people you want to hear about your feelings. It’s a new-age journal.”        

The societal norm of Instagram rejects most of what Finsta stands for. For Peterson, Finsta is an outlet to be yourself.

“Finsta can serve whatever purpose you want it to,” Peterson said.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: