Social Media Helps Shut Down New TSA Procedures

The backlash against the TSA’s recent new implementation of aggressive and invasive screening procedures in airports across the U.S. has been not only impressive in numbers, but groundbreaking in ways these protests formed. As the public became  aware of the backscatter machines and “pat-downs,” the media 2.0-savvy public turned to social media – primarily YouTube, Facebook and Twitter – to share their horrifying experiences and those they witnessed.

After individuals used social media to share their own experiences, then the protest groups formed – and were followed quickly en masse. Only weeks after the questionably legal procedures were implemented by the TSA, the protest group We Won’t Fly has over 18,000 fans on Facebook and over 2,000 followers on Twitter. Another group, Fly with Dignity, has over 5,000 followers on Facebook. Together, they helped organize a “National Opt Out” day the Wednesday before Thanksgiving that would have created a severe backlog at the screening lines, as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year. This “Opt Out Day” became a media headline the days leading up to protest.

Except, it turns out, 94% of travelers chose to just not fly instead. And those that did shared that many airports were not even using the backscatter machines or invasive pat-downs on “opt-out day,” even though the TSA insisted these screenings were necessary to maintain national security. The mobilization of consumers via social media through sharing their experiences and voicing their intent to protest had a direct, positive impact on the TSA – and effected change. At least for one day.

Can the power of social media affect TSA’s policies long-term? Or will the short attention span of U.S. citizens make permanent change unlikely?

Article Written by

Kelly Clay, author of Blog Without Boundaries, is a freelance writer and lifestyle advisor.

  • http://Facebook J Lawrence

    I flew on “opt out” day with my fiancé, and Las Vegas’ McCarren airport had all of their scanners going, and we DID opt out. It still disturbs me how many citizens are just willing to be herded through without any protest, let alone concern for their own safety and personal rights.
    I for one will not be a sheep.

  • Danny

    I think if these groups keep pressing it will have an effect, especially with Christmas coming up. However with a population that has the attention span of a squirrel it will be tough. Overall I think the people will lull back into this false sense of security. Gotta love the sheeple.

  • Wendy Payne

    A lot of people are misinformed– they think we’re protesting a regular x-ray machine, as if our concern is someone seeing our bones. No, I’m not kidding.

    It’s amazing to me that so many Americans are unaware of what goes on in this country.

  • Violet Blue

    This is the most misleading headline I’ve ever read.

    Also, the only substantiation provided for the headline is an out of context 94% ESTIMATE before any data has been collected.