U.S. senators, not exactly a young bunch, haven’t recently been known for their technological acumen. There was the painful grilling of Mark Zuckerberg in 2018, during which lawmakers asked the CEO basic questions like how his company makes money. There was the time the late Alaska senator Ted Stevens infamously referred to the internet as “a series of tubes.” (It turns out he wasn’t completely wrong about that, but still.)
On Thursday, it was Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal’s turn. During a virtual hearing focusing on Instagram’s effect on teenagers, the 75-year-old Democrat asked Facebook’s global head of safety Antigone Davis a question that today’s hip young people might refer to as “cringe.” That question, delivered in a grave tone for maximum comic effect, was: “Will you commit to ending Finsta?”
The word “Finsta,” as anyone under 30 could tell you (surely someone of that age works in Blumenthal’s office?), is simply slang for an alternative, secondary account a user maintains, usually to interact with a smaller set of friends or followers than on their primary account. It seemed at first that Blumenthal was referring to fake accounts in general, which wouldn’t have been unreasonable, but…no.
“Finsta is one of your products or services. We’re not talking about Google, or Apple — it’s Facebook, correct?” asked Blumenthal.
“Finsta is slang for a type of account,” Davis said.
“Will you end that type of account?” Blumenthal shot back.
“I’m not sure what you’re asking,” Davis replied.
She was not the only one.