Why secret security service MI5 has launched an official Instagram account

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 8:15 am
MI5 has launched an official Instagram account in an effort to be more transparent about its work (Shutterstock)

MI5 has launched an official Instagram account in an effort to be more transparent about its work.

Users will be able to follow the Secret Service via @mi5official and the service plans to use the platform to bust popular myths and reveal never-before-seen material from its archives.

Director general Ken McCallum said the account will allow it to “keep the country safe” by expanding the security agency’s reach.

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However, he added that MI5 would still need to keep many of its secrets so it can operate undetected in dangerous environments.

What the MI5 director general said

He wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “But the other half of the dilemma is that MI5’s ability to keep the country safe and resilient also depends on our reaching out to others who can help us, and whom we in turn can help.”

“We owe it to the public to be constantly striving to learn and improve; and in our fast-moving world, with technology advancing at incredible speed, it would be dangerous vanity to imagine MI5 can build all the capabilities it needs inside its own bubble.”

How the platform will be used by MI5

The platform will be used for online Q&As with serving intelligence officers, as well as promoting career opportunities.

Glasgow-raised Mr McCallum expressed hope the service being on Instagram would allow it to recruit Britain’s best and brightest, regardless of background.

“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.

‘Opening up is key to our future success’

It comes after Mr McCallum said in his first media engagement in October that he wants MI5 to “open up and reach out in new ways”, particularly in communicating with younger audiences.

“Much of what we do needs to remain invisible, but what we are doesn’t have to be,” he said.

“In fact, opening up is key to our future success.”

The agency follows GCHQ, which joined the Facebook-owned social network in October 2018.