“Finsta” and the Presentation of Self on Instagram

understanding Split personas on instagram



At UC Berkeley, I am conducting research related to fake Instagram accounts, along with PhD students Elizabeth Resor and Schinria Islam. Our advisor for the project is Professor Niloufar Salehi.

While our primary aim is to pursue academic publication, we believe our findings will have practical implications for online identity management.

research Overview

In this study, we explored the motivation and values that define an emerging social realm within Instagram – "Finsta" (fake Instagram) accounts. Using a mixed-methods approach, we investigated how Finsta users partition their audience across these distinct realms and the nature of the performance enacted when using their Finsta accounts as compared to their regular Instagram accounts. We found that Finstas are defined by a small audience of close friends, and so avoid the "context collapse" (Marwick and boyd, 2011) concerns that exist in other social media spaces. Furthermore, we discovered that Finsta is a space where distinct norms shape performance: humor, authenticity, and unfiltered self-expression.


  1. Survey

  2. Diary Study

  3. Interviews


In January 2019, my team and I submitted an extended abstract to CHI 2019. We are continuing this work in Spring of 2019 to work towards a full-length paper.

Please find the extended abstract available here.