For more than a century, they have operated in the shadows But now aspiring spies can read all about MI5’s secret exploits on Instagram, After years of monitoring social media to uncover terrorist plots and other threats, Britain’s spy agency is making a public foray into the world of influencers and celebrities, sharing photos, videos and fascinating snapshots of missions.
Britain’s domestic intelligence service, MI5, is set to open an official Instagram account on Thursday, in the latest step by the country’s spy agencies to come out of the shadows.
The Security Service, as it is formally known, will take the handle mi5official, and use the account to bust popular myths and reveal never seen before archive material. MI5 plans to use the platform to debunk popular myths about its work and reveal never-before-seen material from the archives of its 112-year past. It also promises to show what it’s like to be an agent runner and surveillance office and the platform will also be used for online Q&A’s with serving intelligence officers, as well as promoting career opportunities. Historical exhibits from MI5’s museum, located in the basement of the agency’s London headquarters, will also be shared for the first time.
In its first post since launching the page, MI5 posted a picture of its headquarters in London with a message about “the secret to successful spying”, “Consider all angles. It’ll give you a better view,” the post said.
The post further added that “behind the pods lie some of the UK’s best-kept secrets”
The agency, once famous for approaching potential new recruits in discreet, shadowy encounters, began publicly advertising vacant positions in recent years.
The move comes months after MI5’s new director-general Ken McCallum said he wanted the traditionally highly secretive agency to “open up and reach out in new ways”.
The new director general Mr McCallum speaking about his move on seting up an instagram account said “Much of what we do needs to remain invisible, but what we are doesn’t have to be,” he further added “In fact, opening up is key to our future success.”
For a spy agency that does not allow staff to share anything about their personal lives on social media, the move will be seen by many as ironic. It comes just days after MI5 warned that social media was being used by foreign spies to target more than 10,000 British officials and other nationals with access to classified or sensitive information.
MI5 is relatively late to the party when it comes to spies on social media. The agency follows
GCHQ which joined the Facebook owned social network in October 2018, while the US intelligence agency the CIA has 3.2 million followers on Twitter.
Mr McCallum an MI5 veteran of more than 25 years who oversaw all counter-terror operations around the 2012 London Olympics said the Instagram account will allow MI5 to “keep the country safe” by expanding the Secret Service’s reach.
“We must get past whatever Martini-drinking stereotypes may be lingering by conveying a bit more of what today’s MI5 is actually like, so that people don’t rule themselves out based on perceived barriers such as socio-economic background, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, disability, or which part of the country they happen to have been born in,” he wrote in the Telegraph.
A 2018 parliamentary committee report strongly criticised the country’s spy agencies for failing to reflect modern Britain and lacking women and ethnic minorities in senior positions.
The UK’s spy network also includes the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) — better known as MI6 and home of the world’s most famous fictional spook, 007 James Bond, as well as cybersecurity agency GCHQ.