A Democratic congressman was mocked online after he had an embarrassing exchange with a Facebook company executive about his demand for them to end “finsta” accounts.
The interaction between Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Facebook’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis occurred during her testimony at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday.
“Will you commit to ending finsta?” asked Blumenthal.
“Senator, again let me explain, we don’t actually, we don’t actually do finsta,” Davis replied after a short pause.
“What ‘finsta’ refers to is young people setting up accounts where they may want to have more privacy,” she explained. “You refer to it as privacy from their parents, what, in my interaction with teens what I’ve found is that they sometimes they like to have an account where they can interact with a smaller group of friends.”
“Finsta is one of your products or services, we’re not talking about Google or Apple, it’s Facebook, correct?” interrupted Blumenthal.
“Finsta is a slang for a type of account,” Davis clarified.
“OK, will you end that type of account?” he interjected.
“I’m not sure I understand exactly you’re asking,” Davis responded. “What I can say is that based on what we’ve seen in terms of teens using those kinds of accounts, we’ve actually given them additional privacy options to address those kinds of issues where they want more privacy so that they can have more privacy.”
“Well, I don’t think that’s an answer to my question,” concluded Blumenthal.
Blumenthal’s confusion over the slang phrase led to “finsta” trending nationally on Twitter.
“The most embarrassing part of this is that he triples down and tries to pin her down with an answer on if Facebook will ‘end Finsta.’ He’s using that put-on Senate interrogation voice and acts very confident and authoritative when he really just misread his staffer’s notes,” tweeted progressive commentator Emma Vigeland, who added a sad face emoji.
“If you wondered why there are no regulations for child influencers it’s because our elected representatives are too busy trying to figure out what ‘finsta’ means,” joked reporter Kat Tenbarge.
“Oh. I just watched the ‘finsta’ questioning. Somehow even more cringeworthy than I expected,” tweeted Axios editor Dan Primack. “If you’re in DC and see someone carrying a cardboard box, it’s gotta be the aide who prepped Blumenthal.”
“Congressional aides who are all younger than these senators, why are you feeding these nonsense questions?!” asked reporter Issie Iapowsky.
Others pointed out that Blumenthal, despite the misunderstanding, appeared to be asking the company to end anonymity on Facebook and Instagram.
Here’s the video of the awkward exchange:
Blumenthal Questions Facebook Exec: ‘Will You Commit To Ending Finsta?’