MI5 has shared a picture from the lobby of its London headquarters in its first post on Instagram.
The secret service uploaded a shot of the inside of Thames House on Millbank on Thursday afternoon.
It said @mi5official will ‘bust popular myths about its work, provide explainers for intelligence terminology, promote career opportunities and bring to life events in MI5’s 112-year past’.
Director general Ken McCallum said it was time for MI5 to drop any ‘Martini-drinking stereotypes’ and it would be a ‘dangerous vanity’ for it to work ‘inside its own bubble’.
He said he wants the organisation to engage more with the public, adding to the
The first ever post by MI5 on Instagram shows a frame of the entrance, where workers step int security pods before entering the building
Those behind the Instagram account for MI5 joked that the floor-to-ceiling angle of the shot could give aspiring spies a ‘better view’
He said Instagram gave the service the chance to ‘find new ways to tap into diversity and creativity of UK life’ by ‘reaching out directly’ to the public.
He added he thought ‘our open approach… will make a difference to our ability to keep the country safe’.
The first Instagram post is a teasing picture of the security pods staff enter when first going into the building.
In an arty shot taken from below, three sci-fi looking pods can be seen standing beneath a glass ceiling looking up to a blue sky.
The picture is captioned underneath: ‘The secret to successful spying? Consider all angles. It’ll give you a better view…
‘This is the view our staff see as they enter MI5 HQ in Thames House, London. Behind these pods lie some of the UK’s best kept secrets.
‘Follow us as we open our doors to Instagram, granting you exclusive views of life inside MI5.’
The account has received thousands of likes and comments, with even Home Secretary Priti Patel contributing to the messages.
Home Secretary Priti Patel commented underneath the post to thank MI5 for keeping Britain safe
MI5 has announced that it is launching its own Instagram account @mi5official, pictured, the organisation’s headquarters building
She commented: ‘Thank you for your exceptional work in keeping our country safe.’
And with just one post and the account live for a matter of hours, MI5 has already accumulated almost 50,000 followers.
The account follows a plethora of British institutions and cultural sites and groups including The Spy Museum, The Imperial War Museum and The National Archives.
They are even following the Girl Guides, Scouts, astronaut Tim Peake and anthropologist Professor Sue Black.
Of just the 52 accounts it follows, a handful are focussed on LGBT rights, such as Stonewall, Pride London, Pink News and Student Pride.
The account also follows the more obvious ones such as the British Army, Priti Patel and 10 Downing Street and a range of Royal accounts such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Blenheim Palace.
The move has followers and MI5 fans very excited, with users cracking jokes such as: ‘We’ve been expecting you’ and ‘how does it feel to be followed yourselves?’
Many others commented asking for a job and saying they were looking forward to seeing more.
Despite the excitement, this is not the first British spy agency to join Instagram as GCHQ and the National Cyber Security Centre joined in 2018.
It comes just days after MI5 warned 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 also plans to host online Q&As with serving intelligence officers and promote career opportunities on the Facebook-owned social network, which boasts more than one billion users globally.
Security Minister Ben Wallace (right) with Andrew Parker, director of MI5, in the operations room in 2019. At the time, Mr Wallace said the world was ‘very much more dangerous’ now than when he first took the job
The agency, once famous for approaching potential new recruits in discreet, shadowy encounters, began publicly advertising vacant positions in recent years.
Historical exhibits from its museum, located in the basement of London headquarters by the River Thames near Westminster, will also be shared for the first time on Instagram.
The move comes months after MI5’s director general Mr McCallum said he wanted the traditionally highly secretive agency to ‘open up and reach out in new ways’.
‘Much of what we do needs to remain invisible, but what we are doesn’t have to be,’ he said in his first media engagement in October, after taking up the job in late April.
‘In fact, opening up is key to our future success,’ added McCallum, a MI5 veteran of more than 25 years who oversaw all counter-terror operations around the 2012 London Olympics.
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.
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