July 16, 2014

TSA Ups the Instagram Ante

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What do a hatchet, 8 ounces of bear spray, and a grenade-shaped vaping device have in common?

All were seized at US airports this month and images were posted of these attempted carryon items by my new favorite Instagram account: @TSA.

Although the Transportation Security Administration would certainly prefer not to find a pocketknife hidden in the insole of a shoe at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, when they do, they make the most of the situation and post it online. The resulting images, occasional puns, and follower commentary is comedic gold. I’m clearly not the only person who thinks so, as @TSA surpassed 100,000 followers this past Saturday and has already grown an additional 15% in a matter of 48 hours.

The TSA’s Instagram may be one of the most entertaining, but it’s certainly not the only social account held by a government agency. The CIA, for example, has collected over 729,000 followers on Twitter in a mere 5 weeks. Their tweets range from ordinary posts about artifacts in the CIA Museum to mischievous posts about Tupac’s whereabouts or taking a selfie with Ellen DeGeneres.

Other government agencies are apparently in on the joke, too, as the first followers of @CIA include the NSA, the FBI, the DEA, and Homeland Security. Whether it’s appropriate or not to make jokes about the serious nature of protecting our country and keeping its citizens safe, at least these agencies are opening the conversation. I’m guessing that before the Instagram account, anyone telling a story about the TSA was complaining about having to take off their shoes in the security line on a day they forgot to wear socks. @TSA might drastically change the public’s perception of the agency, and all it took was a few photos of firecrackers and adorable explosives detection dogs.