MI5 wants to shed its cocktail-guzzling posho image – so it’s opened an Instagram account • The Register

MI5 wants to shed its cocktail-guzzling posho image – so it’s opened an Instagram account • The Register


British domestic spy agency MI5 wants to dispel the idea it is staffed by martini-quaffing layabouts who spend implausible amounts of time lounging around top-end bars and hotels. It has therefore opened an Instagram account.

News of the agency’s foray into the Facebook-owned platform, which shows you heavily filtered photographs from the perspective of somebody whose world consists of estate agents’ marketing photoshoots and perfume ads, came this morning as part of a recruitment drive.

MI5 chief Ken McCallum said in a statement about @mi5official: “You can insert your own joke about whether we will be following you.”

The account can be viewed here, though to view posts on it you’ll need to be a registered user. The first post by MI5 on Instagram was a photo of the entrance to its London HQ. We are sure MI5 is happy to have contributed towards Facebook’s object-recognition AI project, given how the agency greedily hoovers up data about Britons’ online habits in the hope of finding enemy spies, terrorists, criminals, and so on.

We are told that “being more open” is the key to spy agency recruitment in the 2020s, with McCallum adding, for the Daily Telegraph: “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.”

Exactly how an Instagram account achieves that wasn’t explained; the platform is famous for influencers grifters posing in bars, hotels, and holiday destinations while imperiously demanding free stuff from any business they encounter on their travels.


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The odds of MI5 becoming an influencer are probably low, though perhaps some future incarnation of James Bond’s Q could become a profitable robot influencer.

Lest anyone be fooled by this twee display, the agency’s previous boss used his departure speech to call for E2E encryption on messaging platforms to be backdoored so his employees wouldn’t have to work too hard.

On the flip side, it does do some good in the world; earlier this week MI5’s CPNI offshoot warned of hostile countries targeting British public-sector workers for recruitment as informants via LinkedIn.

MI5 is also capable of being too sneaky: Surveyors from BT’s mobile arm, EE, nearly proposed installing a Huawei mobile mast on the roof of a secret agency data centre in West London. ®

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