The senators who are regulating social media show, once again, that they don't understand it

Just another day surfing the series of tubes. At the Senate hearing titled "Protecting Kids Online," Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) displayed fundamental misunderstandings of Facebook's services. In an exchange between the senator and Facebook representative Antigone Davis, I was surprised to find myself siding with Big Tech.

"Will you commit to ending finsta?" Blumenthal asked, referring to private Instagram accounts where young people post authentically, free from the eyes of parents or strangers. "Finsta" is a portmanteau of "fake Instagram."

Facebook's safety chief gently explained that "finsta" is a slang term for burner account, not a formal program of Facebook.

The 75-year-old senator didn't let up. "Finsta is one of your products or services. We aren't talking about Google or Apple, it's Facebook, right?"

Obviously, this misunderstanding isn't the most important thing in the world. Still, a working familiarity with the slang and usage of social media sites should be required when hosting one of many hearings with the company, especially considering how a disregard for the power these sites hold has led to our current dystopia.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal revealed what everyone already assumed: Facebook is aware of how harmful Instagram is to young girls. "We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls," said a slide from a 2019 internal presentation. "Thirty-two per cent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse," said a slide from 2020.

AV Club