If you’re part of Gen Z or know someone who is, then you have likely stumbled upon a finsta recently. Maybe you have one yourself? For the uninitiated, that’s short for “Fake Instagram,” basically an alternate account where people share private photos to a smaller circle of followers. Despite the addition of the Close Friends feature, many still prefer to have a separate account for content that does not make the cut in their rinsta (Yes, that mean’s “Real Instagram”).
I personally enjoy seeing my friends’ finsta content more than their over-filtered ‘grams because they bring a sense of authenticity I miss seeing online, previously seen all over the app’s predecessors Friendster, MySpace, and Tumblr.Most people I know have finstas so they can post photos without having to worry about ruining their curated feed, but I also know that some people use it to stay in touch with friends or rant about deeply personal experiences.So, this got me thinking, why exactly do people choose to have a finsta? We turned to VICE readers for the answer and dared to ask: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve posted on your finsta?
VICE: Why do you have a finsta?Putra: I have a finsta so that I can post literally anything I want, including my daily activities, and I could share everything inside my mind. I usually spam my finsta a lot. I feel more free to do such things on finsta because only selected people can see it.Has anyone you didn’t want to see your finsta found it?Putra: Yeah, I sometimes get lots of follower requests from friends that aren't close, or someone that I only know because we're in the same major in school.What’s the weirdest thing you’ve posted on it?Putra: I post lots of selfies and food, literally just spamming my things, which I'm not confident enough to post in public, like in my main account.Why do you think finstas are a thing?
Putri Azzahra, 18, Indonesia
Putra: Because it somehow gives us privacy and in that privacy, where only selected people could see, we can feel freer to express ourselves, because we feel safer from the judgement of people outside our circles. With a finsta, we don't have to be very overwhelmed about a nice caption.
Why do you have a finsta?Arkadeep: I have a finsta because I feel there are many different sides to a person, and they are totally different from each other. One is exposed, others are not. I guess that the private space, and my finsta, is all about letting my thoughts out.Has anyone you didn’t want to see your finsta found it?Arkadeep: Yes, some of them have because of this crazy flaw of Instagram to link Facebook to any account; so people have come to see my Finsta account via my Facebook.What’s the weirdest thing you’ve posted on it?Arkadeep: A picture with a pal of mine with BABAJI paired with the most contradictory caption I have ever put.VICE: Why do you think finstas are a thing?Arkadeep: Everybody needs to let things out and many choose different ways to do this. I find solace and comfort in writing things out and relating them to pictures. It can be the most beautiful thing ever. That's why Instagram is a lovely platform to reach out to people.
Arkadeep Chakraborty, 21, India
Why do you have a finsta?Raya: It’s just so I can post really stupid stuff. Like my finsta is the epitome of my personality and if I post the stuff I post on my finsta on my main, I know I would get a handful of judgement, not only from strangers and friends, but from family too. So my finsta is a safe haven for me to be weird and low-key risque.
Raya Paul*, 19, Indonesia
Has anyone you didn’t want to see your finsta found it?Raya: Oh yeah, quite a few actually. Just mainly acquaintances who I wasn’t too close with, but I'm chill with it now. The only problem I have is that I have a senior from my university following me and honestly, it's stressing me out.VICE: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve posted on it?Raya: The weirdest thing will probably be posting a screenshot of a video call of my friend climbing her closet, or some of my friends weebing out.VICE: Why do you think finstas are a thing?Raya: I feel that there are a variety of reasons why people have finstas, some may be to show off, or some to post for fun. Though someway or another, I feel that finstas are just a safe space for people to express themselves to a closed circle of friends who won’t judge.
Why do you have a finsta?Aliy: I have it for my mental breakdowns.Has anyone you didn’t want to see your finsta found it?Aliy: Yes, my exes.What’s the weirdest thing you’ve posted on it?Aliy: I’ve posted furries.VICE: Why do you think finstas are a thing?Aliy: I think it’s because public accounts are just a persona.
Aliy Tan*, 17, Singapore
VICE: Why do you have a finsta?Athalia: I have a finsta in order to rant to my close friends about things that followers on my main account may deem inappropriate, unnecessary, or inflammatory because some followers include teachers, coaches, and parents, as well as scouts from tertiary education I would like to pursue.
Athalia James*, 16, Singapore
Has anyone you didn’t want to see your finsta found it?Athalia: My finsta is private, so I can rest well knowing that the content in the finsta remains within the circle of trust, but I've had people that I didn't want finding my account sending multiple follow requests or asking me on my main account for my finsta.What’s the weirdest thing you’ve posted on it?Athalia: The weirdest thing I've posted is a painting/composition of my mom picking at her teeth for an art project.Why do you think finstas are a thing?Athalia: Finstas are a thing because I feel like in this society, where appearances are everything, social media has become a platform, not to share our actual life experiences, but rather a carefully curated section that is publicly acceptable.We're unable to truly express our feelings and thoughts without inviting judgement from our peers/followers for letting our public facade of a perfect/enviable life fall apart.
Christa: I have a finsta because I can post things that I can be afraid to post on my main account. I was principally afraid of judgment (especially when I started my finsta). But at the same time, I wanted to post drawings, and see if other people would like them (because some followers on my main account might like it without really thinking it's good).Has anyone you didn’t want to see your finsta found it?Christa: Yes, my friends were the first, actually. At first, I was really embarrassed, but I am glad they did find it. Now, I let more and more people see it, and my official account is now the account I give to people I don't like.
Christa Thomas*, 16, France
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve posted on it?Christa: I've posted a lot of weird things. This includes some drawings I did a long time ago, which is a series of very disturbing teddy bears/monsters, that I suppressed from my account.Why do you think finstas are a thing?Christa: I think finstas are gaining popularity because, even if Instagram and social media are meant to be places where you can express yourself, it's still known as something you're judged on, and that is directly connected to you. So people need somewhere they can post what they really want to post, and on those accounts, they usually don't have a lot of people that they know as subscribers.
Why do you have a finsta?Bianca: I have it to share photos that I wouldn’t post on my main. It’s like my photo diary to share with close friends.Has anyone you didn’t want to see your finsta found it?Bianca: Yep. I get requests from people who I know but I’m not close with.What’s the weirdest thing you’ve posted on it?Bianca: A repost of a quote that goes, “RIP to all those relationships that didn’t work out. I want to wish you the best but the best was me so it sucks to be you,” knowing all my exes follow my finsta.Why do you think finstas are a thing?Bianca: For the people I know, it’s really just to document weird and funny things that happened, to share with close friends. But I also think people have finstas because they’ll be judged if they post it in their finsta.
Bianca Pelejo, 20, Philippines
VICE: Why do you have a finsta?Anna: I made a finsta because I wanted to create an alter ego of some sort, a personality that I could express to only a select few. I just wanted to have fun and be spontaneous about my posts too.Has anyone you didn’t want to see your finsta found it?Anna: No.What’s the weirdest thing you’ve posted on it?Anna: A photo of my ex and I on a date, although we were already broken up then. Why we went on a date again, I have absolutely no idea, but I posted it because it was the weirdest thing.Why do you think finstas are a thing?Anna: There’s more freedom of expression. It can be an escape from the usual, judgy social media that can be toxic at times.
Anna Gonzales*, 19, Philippines
Why do you have a finsta?Desa: I created one when the “close friends” feature wasn’t available yet. I wanted to limit the audience of my stories on the days I faked my sick leaves. I continued using it as a repository of photos/videos of moments I want to immortalize but do not look good on my curated public IG feed. #basicHas anyone you didn’t want to see your finsta found it?Desa: My original finsta handle had my name on it because I really didn’t know how finstas worked back then. So yeah, some acquaintances requested to follow me, but I declined.What’s the weirdest thing you’ve posted on it?Desa: An Excel table. Yes, I know right? Who would share excel tables on their public accounts? As a proud manager, I just had to post about the new performance record of my worst performing machine at work. It was truly a “mom” moment.
Desa Valenzuela*, 28, Philippines
Why do you think finstas are a thing?Desa: I guess mainly because people have different sides to their personality which they don’t want to be revealed to the general public or certain groups of people.
VICE: Why do you have a finsta?Pam: It’s a fun way to express how my day went, how I’m feeling, and other stuff.Has anyone you didn’t want to see your finsta found it?Pam: Yes! And it’s annoying because, are we close?What’s the weirdest thing you’ve posted on it?Pam: Oh, that one time I stole something from the Narita Airport, but it was an accident.Why do you think finstas are a thing?Pam: It’s a way to connect with your close friends without starting a conversation, and allows you to be your “authentic” self online. It also could be a way to look back at your life if you post daily.Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.*Names changed to protect privacy.Find Lia on Twitter and Instagram.Cover photo source: Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash