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‘Rinsta’ accounts are home to the curated self Terry Chapman, Creative Commons (2015) ©

Finsta: teens keeping it real online

Documenting one’s life through Instagram snaps has become a daily ritual for teens; 52% of 13- to 17-year-olds in the US have an account. Yet the pressure to maintain a picture-perfect digital presence is driving many to open ‘Finsta’ accounts, which are open to select group of trusted friends.

 

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Documenting one’s life through highly curated Instagram snaps has become a daily ritual for many teens; 52% of 13- to 17-year-olds in the US have an account, maintaining an average of 150 followers. [1] The pressure to maintain a perfect public presence online, however, is driving many to open ‘Finsta’ accounts, which are open to select group of trusted friends.

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Teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media than ever before, especially on Instagram, where 80 million images are uploaded every day. [2] According to a 2015 Pew study, they’re posting significantly more photos, videos, and status updates than in previous studies conducted in 2006 and 2012. [3] Yet while teenagers may seem like enthusiastic creators and curators, 40% feel pressure to post content that makes them look good to others. [4] Rather than give up on social media altogether, they’re creating ‘Finstagrams’ – secondary Instagram accounts – that allow them keep it real in a hyper-connected digital world.

A portmanteau of ‘fake’ and ‘Instagram’, Finstagrams are used to share teens’ real, unguarded and unpolished selves with a select group of trusted friends and family. In contrast to real Instagram accounts, or ‘Rinstagrams’, Finsta accounts are filled with goofy photos, emotionally revealing quotes, and moments you’d rather your mum or your crush didn’t see. As student Amy Wesson, 18, told The New York Times, “You post things you wouldn’t want people other than your friends to see, like unattractive pictures, random stories about your day and drunk pictures from parties.” [5]

Maintaining secret accounts on multiple social media channels is surprisingly common for teens and twenty-somethings. [6] Platforms that allow anonymous and locked accounts, like Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, have all been popular among young people because they allow users to create safe havens from constant social scrutiny. Understanding that people – especially savvy youth – may have multiple audiences to share content with, Instagram has created a new feature that will allow users to easily switch between accounts. [7] While this feature may be convenient for some, will it meet Gen Y and Z’s very distinct needs for privacy? Read more at Canvas8