British Security Service MI5 is joining Instagram during a bid to extend transparency and rid itself of “martini-drinking stereotypes”.
The account, @mi5official, will host Q&As serving intelligence officers and promote career opportunities.
Urging people to follow the service, MI5 boss Ken McCallum said: “You can insert your joke about whether we’ll be following you.”
Mr. McCallum said “being more open” was key to MI5’s approach to the 2020s.
Writing within the Daily Telegraph, he admitted joining the platform was “a routine step for many organizations, but more interesting when you’re within the business of keeping secrets.”
But he said the intelligence was facing a dilemma: “On the one hand, our ability to serve the general public and keep the country safe depends critically on operating covertly.”
However, he said they need to also reach bent new people that can help. “It would be dangerous vanity to imagine MI5 can build all the capabilities it needs inside its bubble,” he wrote.
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 point out what it wishes to be an agent runner and surveillance officer, though Mr. McCallum says their operations won’t become “an open book”.
“We must get past whatever martini-drinking stereotypes could also be lingering by conveying a touch more of what today’s MI5 is like so that people don’t rule themselves out based on perceived barriers like socio-economic background, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, disability, or which a part of the country they happen to possess been born in,” he said.
MI5 is comparatively late to the party when it involves spies on social media.
GCHQ launched its Instagram account in 2018, while the US intelligence the CIA has 3.2 million followers on Twitter.
And the recently-appointed head of MI6 Richard Moore may be a prolific tweeter.
Outlining his strategy as MI5’s new boss in October last year, Mr. McCallum said: “If I would like one thing to characterize my tenure during this role, it’s for MI5 to open up and reach out in new ways.
“Much of what we do must remain invisible, but what we are doesn’t need to be. Opening up is vital to our future success.”