Senator Richard Blumental asked a top Facebook executive on Thursday whether the company would “commit to ending ‘Finsta'” – apparently without realizing the true meaning of the term.
Blumenthal, D-Conn., Interviewed Facebook’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis at a Senate committee hearing that followed a report by the Wall Street Journal that the company’s internal research found that its Instagram platform had “body image issues” in one in three teenagers aggravated “. Girl.”
There was several seconds of silence before Davis answered.
“Senator, again, let me explain,” she began. “We don’t actually do it – we don’t actually do ‘Finsta’.
“What ‘Finsta’ means is that young people are setting up accounts that they may want more privacy with,” she continued. “You called it her parents’ privacy. In my interactions with teenagers, I’ve found that sometimes they like to have an account that allows them to only interact with a smaller group of friends. “
Blumenthal, chairman of the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, pushed Davis towards the end of the three-hour hearing.
“Well, ‘finsta’ is one of your products or services,” said Blumenthal. “We’re not talking about Google or Apple, we’re talking about Facebook, right?”
“‘Finsta’ is slang for some kind of account,” replied Davis.
“OK, are you going to end this type of account?” asked Blumenthal again.
After a pause, Davis admitted, “I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re asking. What I can say is that based on what we’ve seen in relation to teens with accounts like this, we’ve given them additional privacy options to address these types of issues where they want more privacy so they can have more Privacy.”
“Well, I don’t think that’s an answer to my question,” said Blumenthal after a few seconds of silence before ending the hearing.
Congressional hearings with tech companies have sometimes resulted in middle-aged and senior lawmakers having occasional struggles to keep up with the issue. One such moment came in 2018 when then Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) asked Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “How do you maintain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?”
“Senator,” replied Zuckerberg. “We place advertisements.”