People hiding their identity online is certainly not a new concept, but it might not always be easy to distinguish a fake social media account from a real one.
With a fake Instagram account or “finsta,” the name and profile picture are anonymous and are primarily used as a second account to hide the user’s identity. So why do people use finsta accounts, and how can you spot one?
Who Creates Finstas?
Fake Instagram accounts are not a new thing, and the reason someone might have one is not necessarily negative. A recent survey that focused on generation Z’s relationship with technology showed that for younger peopleaged 16 to 24, 40% said they had a fake Instagram account. Having a second finsta is very popular with younger people who want to share inside jokes or riskier content with their friends and not share these with others. This is one of a number of factors that highlight technological age as can be seen in ExpressVPN’s quiz. Other areas include how we watch content and what devices we have.
Another reason people hide their identity online is to have the freedom to share pictures or content that won’t come up on a search of their name, for example, if you are applying for jobs and don’t want a potential new boss to see. Celebrities like Harry Styles and Taylor Swift also use fake Instagram accounts to have a kind of “normal” persona online.
Finstas give people an opportunity to share a less filtered, authentic, and lighthearted side of themselves. Unfortunately, most people feel the pressure to present their idealized selves on Instagram, but as we all know, this is not usually a reflection of reality. Like everything else online, fake accounts can pose a potential danger, whether it’s an ex-stalking you after you have or something more sinister like spamming or online scammers.
How to Spot a Finsta?
Firstly, pay close attention to profiles. Many fake accounts do not have profile pics, bio, location, etc., and have very little or no activity. If a stranger sends you a private message, how can you establish if the person is real or not? One quick way is by going to their profile and saving their image, downloading the image, and simply running a google search. You will most likely find the real person online under a different name.
If an account that you don’t know starts sending you comments when you post or mentions or tags you in their comments, this is a red flag. The general rule to follow is if it feels strange, it most likely is.
Advertising has become a normal part of our social media scrolling, but this is also an opportunity for fake accounts or scammers pretending to be online businesses or shops. If an online business is certificated and using PayPal, they are usually legit. A quick way to check whether they are legitimate or not is to simply do a google search on them, particularly paying attention to reviews.
And lastly, if money is involved, be especially alert! If someone contacts you, claiming that you will receive something in return if you follow back, such as a free gift or cash. This is most likely a scammer.