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Richard Blumenthal Pressures Facebook To End Finsta, Has No Idea What That Is

"We don't actually do finsta," Antigone Davis, Facebook's head of security, explained.

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Proving once again that the U.S. federal government's gerontocracy is totally unqualified to adjudicate tech issues—let alone regulate or break up large social media companies—Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.) asked Facebook's head of security to commit to "ending finsta."

The question made no sense whatsoever, since "finsta" is not a product or service that Facebook provides. The fact that Blumenthal posed this question during a hearing on Thursday about social media's potential to harm children demonstrates that he doesn't actually know what a finsta is—but thought Facebook should do something about, it anyway.

The term finsta is short for "fake Instagram." It's an unofficial word for a secondary account that an Instagram user creates in order to have more privacy. This secondary account might follow different people than the primary account, and might not include the user's actual name or identifying details.

"We don't actually do finsta," Antigone Davis, Facebook's head of security, explained. Blumenthal was not satisfied with this answer.

To be crystal clear about what's happening here, a U.S. senator is demanding that a private company remove a feature that isn't actually something the company is responsible for creating. And this is hardly the first time something like this has happened. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–Vt.) once asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to justify the existence of several specific images that had appeared on the site. (He brought along print-outs of the pictures.) "I'm not familiar with those pieces of content," Zuckerberg responded, with considerable exasperation.

Legislators have repeatedly asked Facebook to let users obtain all of the information the site has collected about them, failing to understand that Facebook already does this.

Blumenthal's confusion over finsta is just one small part of the case against having the government do something about Big Tech. I elaborate on so many additional reasons in my new book, Tech Panic: Why We Shouldn't Fear Facebook and the Future, which was published this week. You can order it here, read an excerpt from it here, and watch me discuss it with Reason's Nick Gillespie here.

NEXT: If Democrats Truly Wanted To Level the Playing Field, They’d End Crony Corporate Handouts

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  1. I sent a letter to Blumenthal asking him to look into Reason ending SockPuppets.

    1. I look forward to him grilling Zuckerberg about this.

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        1. Sarah getting Paid up to $18953 in the week, working on-line at home. I’m full time Student. I shocked when my sister’s told me about her check that was $97k. It’s very easy to do.QEd everybody will get this job. Go to home media tab for additional details……

          So I started……… http://gg.gg/w3b6a

    2. Honestly lol’ed this.

      1. I made over $700 per day using my mobile in part time. I recently got my 5th paycheck of $19632 and all i was doing is to copy and paste work online. this home work makes me able to generate more cash daily easily. simple to do work and regular income from this are just superb. Here what i am doing. Try now

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    3. You want reason to end Lamb Chop?

      You are despicable.

      1. If she were still around, congress would probably subpoena Shari Lewis to testify.

    4. Blumenthal looks forward to questioning Steve Jobs next.

    5. I’m surprised Blumenthal didn’t demand that Davis come to his house and program his VCR for him.

  2. I’m not sure why they would want “finsta” (first time I’ve encountered that term) ended. Is it so they can monitor people more effectively. I’ve never used my real name on any social media platform and I’m not about to start.

    1. If I had to guess it’s about “something something child sex trafficking”. Or they thought it was some sort of financial services scam. Who knows.

      I’ll say, as much as I dislike these people, I have to give them credit for maintaining their cool during all this. I’m pretty sure I’d be telling these politicians *exactly* what I thought of them. I suspect that would go poorly for me…

      1. Society would be a lot better off if the inquisitors were told where to go. Frankly, I think any CEO who told them to fuck off would gain a lot of credibility with users, and I doubt the repercussions would be anything to worry about, since telling them how stupid they are would provide some context in court for not doing what they demand.

        1. They used to do exactly that. But then the WRONG people started figuring out how to use the platform, and what was once an amazing frontier of endless horizons suddenly became Somalia to exactly those same CEOs and their staff.

          The difference between how everyone reacted to Obama’s campaign using hoovered data from facebook, vs Trump’s was quite revealing.

        2. The Brits have perfected the art of damning with faint praise.

          “Senator, while I applaud your efforts to educate yourself on the subject, I wouldn’t give you an internship” or something. I dunno.

          1. Flip it. “Senator, while I wouldn’t consider you for an internship, I applaud your efforts to educate yourself on the subject.” Yeah. End with the praise.

            1. Or send some 19 year old intern who never looks up from their phone and dismissively responds to any question or comment with “whatever you say, boomer”.

      2. I’m sure it’s a lot easier to keep your cool when you know that it’s all kayfabe and the check is in the mail.

        1. Pretty much this.
          Why get huffy when you and Blumenthal are both pretending anyway?

      3. I would actually have a little respect for these people if they pointedly pointed out when these politicians were being ignorant idiots and utterly wasting everyone’s time.

        1. Why take the heat when others will point it out afterwards.

      4. If I had to guess it’s about “something something child sex trafficking”.

        I thought similar. It would be funny if Blumenthal thought finsta was, along the lines of FOSTA, ‘Financial Sex Trafficking Act’ and he was effectively calling on Facebook to stop participating in Operation Chokepoint, and Reason was saying, because he’s so confused, to stop.

        1. Finally someone with a brain. Exactly, he was referring to a legal issue.

      5. Pull up that old tape of Howard Hughs telling congress to kiss his ass.

    2. I imagine that’s what he was trying to get to.

    3. I’m not sure why they would want “finsta” (first time I’ve encountered that term) ended.

      For the same reason they want to ban the shoulder thing that goes up.

    4. Wait, Zeb isn’t your real name? So dishonest, “Zeb”.

    5. I’m not sure why they would want “finsta” (first time I’ve encountered that term) ended

      It’s probably important to the Chinese government, so why wouldn’t the US congress be on it?

  3. On the one hand laughing at democrats is good fun. On the other I hate social media and don’t care if they disappear for good.

    Oh get this Marine who went to Trump rally is being investigated by DoD. What a bunch of fucking morons the generals are.

    1. We got a new Joseph McCarthy in town…. and he’s goin after them Trumpies!

      1. Was that supposed to make sense?

        1. You aren’t the intended audience.

          1. Was it for the voices in your head?

      2. McCarthy was after communist, and quite rightly too. All the bullshit about him being a villain came from the leftists in the media, Hollywood, etc.. you know, all the places currently dominated by leftist trash. Had McCarthy been more successful, we would be much better off for it.

        1. What should he have done with those commies? Rounded ’em up and put ’em into camps? Make sure they can’t get a job? Re-edumicate ’em? Shoot ’em? Lock ’em up and throw away the key?

          Been just like them?

          1. Making sure they were kept out of *government* jobs would certainly have been appropriate. And as for Hollywood, there’s a lot to be said for simply being able to inform the audience that the things they’re watching were made by people who want to destroy them.

  4. I have to admit that when I read only the headline before clicking, I thought maybe ‘finsta’ was Facebook’s digital currency and Blumenthal wanted that ended.

    The news is getting weirder than I could even make up at this point.

  5. the U.S. federal government’s gerontocracy

    This is a stupid point. It has nothing to do with their ages, it has to do with their intelligence (or lack thereof) and willingness to learn (or lack thereof) about the issues they want to control. I’m 60 and I’ll guarantee I have a better understanding of tech issues than you do. You think the young members of “the squad” are tech-savvy? AOC can’t even grasp basic economic concepts, and she has a degree in the subject.

    The vast majority of young people have no more understanding of the technology they use every day than the average driver does of the inner workings of modern internal combustion engines…in fact likely less. Just because they use it and are comfortable with it doesn’t mean they understand it.

    1. You think the young members of “the squad” are tech-savvy? AOC can’t even grasp basic economic concepts, and she has a degree in the subject.

      “Tech-savvy” has a nuanced meaning.

      I spent 20 years (slight exaggeration, but only slight) in software development from the late 80s through the early 2000s, then switched to network engineering and have been doing that for about 15 years. I run a large, multinational corporate network with interconnected sites around the globe, I have a strong understanding of all the technical underbelly issues of digital communication, how packets move, don’t move, fail to move, route, fail to route, latency, global DNS… blah blah blah.

      But I had to ask my daughter tips on how to use a list-keeping app on my phone.

      Tech-savvy in this modern era means you’re hip to the latest apps on your phone, or the latest lingo on Tinder and Twitch, you know what “poggers” means, but you have no fucking idea how your flashlight works.

      1. I looked up the meaning of “poggers”. I am less intelligent for having done so.

        1. Poggers are the hero we deserve.

        2. I’m pretty sure I’ve had this discussion with my kids. I remember discussing what pogs were (they knew), getting called a boomer, and that poggers was what started the discussion.

          Somebody should really explain to new or wannabe parents that you’re probably going to delete ~10-20% of the conversations you have with your kids from your consciousness.

        3. I assume poggers are professional pog players

        4. I really wish I had taken this warning seriously.

    2. The vast majority of young people have no more understanding of the technology they use every day than the average driver does of the inner workings of modern internal combustion engines…in fact likely less.

      FYI I would argue less, so I agree with you here 100%. But that’s just a hunch.

      1. FYI I would argue less

        Definitely less if we throw EV owners in the mix.

        Stephen Hawking’s head: Probably magnets

    3. This is spot on. Leahy has been an idiot for his entire career, it didn’t begin when he passed some hazy line into old age.

  6. I always thought finsta was what they used to keep Guam from tipping over.

    1. Just don’t ask what a “Rusty Venture” is.

      1. On that not, has anyone noticed just how much Fauci sounds like Dr. Girlfriend?

    2. I thought it was a 1980s Ford.

      1. British version of the Fairmont, the Ford Finsta.

  7. “We don’t actually do finsta,” Antigone Davis, Facebook’s head of security, explained. Blumenthal was not satisfied with this answer.”

    So, Facebook’s head of security isn’t responsible for Instagram, but Instagram is a subsidiary of Facebook?

    If so, sounds to me like the confusion might have been about whether the gun in front of the committee was head of security for Facebook, Inc or Facebook–a subsidiary of Facebook, Inc.–the confusion about which is entirely understandable.

    1. I don’t keep up on the acquisitions and ownership, but if Instagram is a sub of Facebook then he damn well does do finsta and is either dodging, the wrong person or secondary accounts aren’t something they consider a risk to the company. My money is on the last one this time.

      1. Yeah, Instagram is owned by Facebook.

        The antitrust case against Facebook is trying to break Facebook up into (at least) three companies: Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp. They want to break Instagram off of Facebook so that they’ll compete with each other.

    2. _Instagram_ doesn’t do FINSTA. Instagram _users_ do FINSTA.

      Are Instagram, Facebook, etc., supposed to require new users to show up at the local office (that doesn’t exist) in person with photo ID (which poor people can’t get, according to Democrats like Blumenthal), to prevent users from using fake names or setting up second accounts?

  8. Wasn’t Finsta a character from a Bugs Bunny cartoon?

  9. ” I elaborate on so many additional reasons in my new book, Tech Panic: Why We Shouldn’t Fear Facebook and the Future,

    This uptick in sycophantic zeal is reason for Robby readers to shift gears from Be Very Afraid to Timor mortis conturbat me

  10. Hey Auntie gone, Blumenthal is a democrat when he says jump you jump but not as high as when Xi says jump. If he were a republican you could ban his account, why not ban a republican account anyway just to appease Blumie.

  11. Every time you answer Blumenthal, you should preface your answer with “Well, I don’t know how you used to do it in Vietnam, but over here the way we do it is …..” just to watch his jaw muscles pop.

    1. That’s as good a plan as I’ve heard.

  12. I’ve met the Blumie at parties in CT. He is small minded

  13. But remember folks, this is the type of guy you want to put in charge of regulating ‘censorship’ and ‘misinformation’ on the Internet. Idiots.

    1. Maybe he’s someone you want, none of us voted for shitstained asshole liberals like you did.

    2. Lmao right. Because so many libertarians voted for a leftist piece of shit in Connecticut.

      Blumenthal is exactly the type of dumbass you’d vote for though, since you’re clearly not libertarian and want the state to run your life. Probably because you’re fat, dumb, and dependant.

      1. “Probably because you’re fat, dumb, and dependEnt.”

        I think you’ve pretty much described anyone who wants a government to take care of them and to fuck with those they do not like or agree with.

  14. Robby doesn’t know that Facebook owns Instagram?

  15. Poor Section 230 advocates, swimming in their own stew of stupdity. Does FB/Instagram do finsta? No! Of course not. They’re just a platform. *eyeroll* Why does Congress care if FB/Instagram (or its users) do finsta? Because section 230 means they need to harass FB/Instagram about determining what may be offensive and dealing with it.

    You morons want to play the game. Blumenthal questioning Davis about nonsense is your prize. You all deserve each other.

    1. Senile and out of touch? Duped? True believer? Paid propagandist? Reason *drink* indeed.

  16. This is a really bad take. Facebook actively tries to stop people from having multiple accounts, and has had bouts of bad press from their real name policy. They have been looser with their wholly owned subsidiary, to the point that there is teenage vernacular to describe such accounts. While they do not directly create finstas, their policies directly lead to their creation, whereas the parent company’s platform blocks their creation, sometimes to absurd degrees (one has to use their real name to login to their Oculus headset, and people have been locked out when Facebook’s algorithms think they are fake, being the most obnoxious).

    Instead, because the Senator is forced to relay his staff’s thoughts (there is no reason why Senators should be or could be expert on everything, which is why they have policy staff) rather than having staff question directly, he wasn’t able to press the question when given a copout answer. Personally, I am really curious why the Senator or a member of his staff believes it is the federal government’s business how many social media accounts one creates. That overreach is what we should be focusing on, not that he fumbled a game of telephone.

    1. ‘One has to use their real name to login to their Oculus headset,’ good to know, thanks.

      1. My pleasure. The Facebook login requirement is so stupid. I really hope that Facebook does not win the VR wars.

  17. Is this the same Sgt. Richard Blumenthal, “Vietnam Combat Veteran” (Marine Corps Reserve and only served in Washington DC and Connecticut and only after 5 draft deferments) who bragged about his service record?

    Why is he still in office and why should we ever listen to him on any topic?

  18. What is a Facebook?

    And I thought Instagram was a cooking website. Finsta is an Italian pastry popular in Naples. Twitter has something to do with birds.

    1. Now you’re taking Joe Biden’s game.

  19. This is more a demonstration of the low intelligence of Blumenthal and Leahy than a compelling argument for not nuking social media from orbit, Rico.

  20. Reader’s Digest version:

    Will you commit to ending finsta?
    We don’t actually do finsta.
    Finsta is one of your products or services, correct?
    Finsta is slang for a type of account.
    Will you end that type of account?
    I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re asking.
    Well, I don’t think that’s an answer to my question.

  21. If you think Facebook give you all the information they have collected about you, I have a bridge to sell you.

    Most of Facebook’s information about you is cookies and browsing behavior, together with the outputs of machine learning models also built on information about you.

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