MI5 sets up Instagram account to let agency ‘reach out directly’

Ken McCallum, who replaced Sir Andrew Parker as Director-General of MI5 in April 2020, says that the Security Service’s mission to combat terrorism and espionage within the UK will be best-served by being less secretive.

Announcing MI5’s debut on Instagram, the youngest-ever director of the intelligence agency said that it would be “dangerous vanity” for MI5 to assume that all the resources it needed to counter 21st-Century threats could be found “inside its own bubble”.

While he acknowledged that some things would always need to be kept secret in order to preserve a “vital edge” against evildoers, a more open posture for the agency would help it liaise with academics, companies, and ordinary citizens to identify and neutralise emerging threats.

He added that MI5 needed to diversify to match an ever more diverse set of dangers: "We must get past whatever Martini-drinking stereotypes may be lingering,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph, “by conveying a bit more of what today’s MI5 is actually like".

Mr McCallum, who was appointed to the job last year at the age of 45 said he hoped that potential applicants that people don’t rule themselves out of applying to work at MI5 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 says that, growing up in Glasgow, it would have seemed impossible at one time to imagine himself working at MI5, let alone running it.

And that’s why, he says, MI5 is launching on Instagram. “A routine step for most organisations,” he jokes, “but more interesting when you’re in the business of keeping secrets".

The account will allow followers, for example, to take part in online Q&A sessions with serving intelligence officers.

It will also offer new insights into past operations and make recruitment possibilities more visible.

Mr McCallum says that by reaching out to a wider public the agency can widen its net when it comes to recruitment and maximise its ability to keep the country safe.

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