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The one place people ‘like’ the TSA

In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day: A surprisingly popular Instagram account. The Transportation Security Administration is not typically considered a source of entertainment. But TSA’s social-media feed of photographs is attracting a huge following of people entranced by the mix of confiscated contraband and explosive-detecting dogs.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And finally to our "NewsHour Shares", the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, is making its mark on social media with a surprisingly popular Instagram account, with pictures of prohibited items agents deem unfit to fly.

    The "NewsHour"'s Julia Griffin met the man behind the account.

  • JULIA GRIFFIN:

    Guns, knives, and holiday pies–when it comes to air travel this month, only two of the three will land you on Santa's naughty list, but they all could land on TSA's Instagram feed. A click-bait-worthy mix of confiscated security items and explosive-detecting dogs, TSA's Instagram has been rated by "Rolling Stone" magazine as the app's fourth best — right between pop stars Rihanna and Beyonce.

  • BOB BURNS, Lead Social Media Specialist, TSA:

    As a former musician, I always wanted to make "Rolling Stone," and I never imagined that I would make it through social media with TSA.

  • JULIA GRIFFIN:

    Bob Burns runs the agency's feed.

  • BOB BURNS:

    I think they find it fascinating because they can't believe people are bringing items on the plane, like the guns and the knives and grenades.

  • JULIA GRIFFIN:

    Some of the bizarre highlights include: a homemade avalanche charger, this bag of live eels, a human skull hidden in a clay souvenir pot, and, of course, canines at work and at play.

  • BOB BURNS:

    You can never go wrong with the dogs.

  • JULIA GRIFFIN:

    But the most-liked post? This full-sized dummy corpse from the film "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

  • BOB BURNS:

    I don't know how they worked it out, if they had a ticket for him with the airline, but we had to screen through the x-ray.

  • JULIA GRIFFIN:

    TSA's images mainly come from security check incident reports. And while the stream of explosives and weapons might trigger alarm, Burns contends it shows the often-criticized agency is getting the job done.

  • BOB BURNS:

    I think it acts as a deterrent. It shows that we're finding these things, and if anyone was thinking about sneaking something through, they're going to say, "Well, maybe I shouldn't, because they're probably going to find it."

  • JULIA GRIFFIN:

    But the TSA's posts also provide travel tips. Really need that five-blade mace on your vacation? Put it in your checked bag. Want to know if you can carry on that mini alligator head? Tweet @asktsa. And need to make sure that laptop you left at Newark airport last month gets returned?

  • BOB BURNS:

    We recommend people place their business card or their contact information on their laptop.

  • JULIA GRIFFIN:

    For the "PBS NewsHour", I'm Julia Griffin at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

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