Random, Messy, Funny, Raw: Finstas as Intimate Reconfigurations of Social Media

Sijia Xiao, Danaë Metaxa, Joon Sung Park, Karrie Karahalios, Niloufar Salehi
CHI: ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2020
Among many young people, the creation of a finsta—a port- manteau of “fake” and “Instagram” which describes secondary Instagram accounts—provides an outlet to share emotional, low-quality, or indecorous content with their close friends. To study why people create and maintain finstas, we conducted a qualitative study through interviews with finsta users and content analysis of video bloggers exposing their finsta on YouTube. We found that one way that young people deal with mounting social pressures is by reconfiguring online platforms and changing their purposes, norms, expectations, and cur- rencies. Carving out smaller spaces accessible only to close friends allows users the opportunity for a more unguarded, vulnerable, and unserious performance. Drawing on feminist theory, we term this process intimate reconfiguration. Through this reconfiguration, finsta users repurpose an existing and widely-used social platform to create opportunities for more meaningful and reciprocal forms of social support.