Ethan Chiel

Monday, while I was in a security line at John F. Kennedy airport in New York City, I noticed something interesting at the bottom of the bin that goes through the TSA's X-ray machine.

It was an ad for Snapchat.


While you could say it's just another place to advertise, you'd think that a company that has had notable privacy problems might not want to associate itself with the most invasive federal agency most people come into contact with on a regular basis. Aside from the lil' ghost logo pictured above, bins at JFK, LAX, and San Francisco's SFO airports also feature an x-ray image of the ghost.

A spokesperson for Snapchat said the ads were "temporary." (Is the joke in that response intentional? Hard to say.) The spokesperson did not say if the advertising is tied to any particular event.


Neither the TSA nor the Department of Homeland Security is responsible for the ads, a TSA spokesman said via email. The agency owns neither the bins nor the advertising. A spokesperson for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs JFK, has yet to get back to me about how much such a campaign costs.

The bins don't actually say anything on them. They only have Snapchat's logo, not the company's name. But next time you fly, enjoy the sly wink that Snapchat can make things disappear just like the TSA can do to your clothes when it looks through them with its controversial scanners.


Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at

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