Curtis (Bob) Burns, the lead social media specialist for the Transportation Security Administration, who works from his West Chester home, didn’t set out to amuse Jimmy Kimmel. But he’s explaining how the TSA’s Webby-nominated Instagram feed became a thing, and that’s a story that starts back in 2013. Burns had been using the social media platform personally when he realized that photos of items confiscated at security checkpoints could work on Instagram, too. About a week after he posted the first one, “Kimmel was showing pictures of a knife-gun thing and making fun of the TSA having an Instagram account,” says Burns.
“I used a lot of hashtags to try and get attention, and he said the TSA used more hashtags than a 13-year-old girl.” This still makes Burns laugh. The collection of strange items found in checked bags isn’t quite as funny, though. “You have to wonder what the thought process is for some of these things,” says Burns. Like the gun hidden inside a bike wheel. “We call that artfully concealed,” he adds. “You take the trouble to hide something, you can’t say you forgot it was in there.”