Here's How a Viral Tweet of a Giant Lobster Started a Debate About Privacy at Airports

June 29th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

A viral photo of a giant lobster has started a debate about privacy and airport security. Lisa Feinman, who owns Atlantic Seafood in Connecticut, was reportedly shipping a lobster to a customer in Georgia who had moved there from New England. Michael McCarthy, a media representative with the Transportation Security Administration, tweeted a photo of the lobster at Boston's Logan airport from a checked luggage inspection on Monday. 

The photo made the rounds on social media, receiving thousands of likes, and nearly 2,000 retweets, until Feinman saw it. That's when she wrote an angry post claiming it was a violation of privacy for her and her customer Chris Stracuzza. 

"This TSA agent should mind his own business," she wrote on the Atlantic Seafood Market's Facebook account on Monday. "When is it okay to go through someone's checked baggage and take photographs? I am personally angered by this because I packed this checked cooler with care and concern for the lobsters and my customer's personal property." 


The initial photo of the lobster and Feinman's response started a debate about TSA agents and the privacy of passengers.

Some people said the agents should go through all checked luggage to keep everyone safe, implying that the controversy was inconsequential because it was over a lobster. 








However, other Facebook users said the issue isn't simply about the lobster. They're troubled by the fact the TSA can take photos of personal property and post them to the internet. 







The TSA released a statement to local station NBC10 about the controversy. 

"TSA is reaching out to the passenger (sic) directly to discuss her concerns. During the busy summer travel season TSA officers will screen more than 2.3 million passengers per day. We share images through social media to provide helpful travel tips and to better inform the traveling public about TSA's mission. At no point does TSA reveal passenger specific information." 

In 2015, another TSA social media photo made headlines. This one was of luggage filled with cash. 

Lisa Farbstein, a media representative for TSA, tweeted a photo of a checked bag with a distinctive design full of an estimated $75,000 in cash at Richmond International Airport. Similarly, users accused Farbstein of invading the passengers privacy and some even said she put them in danger because she made the bag easily identifiable. 

Carrying large sums of cash in a checked bag is not illegal but it can prompt a search and a police investigation, as it did in this case. The cash was seized by a federal agency, but the traveler was allowed to continue on their way, according to The Washington Post.

A TSA spokesman told The Hill that Farbstein took care not to include identifiable information in the tweet. 

RELATED: Airport Security Lines Are out of Control