MI5 reveals 'secret to successful spying' in first Instagram post – but can you figure out what it is?

MI5 have revealed the “secret to successful spying” in their first Instagram post – but the picture has left Brits scratching their heads.

The photo gives a confusing glimpse inside MI5’s top secret HQ, Thames House on London’s Millbank.

Until now only spies, government officials and a handful of visitors have ever set foot inside, but after 112 years, the Security Service has decided to let the public get a sneak peek by launching @mi5official.

Director General Ken McCallum – MI5’s youngest-ever boss – personally gave the green light for the move in a bid to drive up recruitment among millennials and to rid the organisation of its “martini-drinking stereotypes.”

And the page has certainly grabbed some attention with its first post – showing an eye like shape with three black pods.

The caption reads: “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.”

Hundreds of confused followers took to the comments to give their view on what the picture showed.

But with the right perspective, the image will show the view looking up if you were standing at the entrance to MI5.

The blue square at the centre, which some thought to be a swimming pool, is actually the sky.

And the eye shape is a skylight, revealing buildings on either side.

Meanwhile the three black pods are high security doorways known as Tiger Traps or Air Pods.

The doors open to only a security card or code, and only allow one person in at a time.

Home Secretary Priti Patel replied to the post, saying: "Thank you for your exceptional work in keeping our country safe."

Sources said the account aims to reach a new generation in their teens and 20s prepared to serve in the shadows for Queen and country.

The account will also aim to bust popular myths about life as a spook and lift the lid on the service’s history.

James Bond is just one famous spy character that has propagated the image of slick spies. 

The fictional MI6 agent was renowned for enjoying martinis, using special gadgets and wooing women.

But the Instagram account now hopes to show the true side of spy work.

Followers will get to see exhibits from MI5’s own museum, housed in the the HQ’s basement.

The account will also host Q&A sessions with serving intelligence officers.

And the public will get the chance to find out more about some of MI5’s most secretive jobs, like being an agent runner or a surveillance officer.

In his first media engagement as the new Director General in October 2020, Ken McCallum explained: “If I want one thing to characterise my tenure in this role, it’s for MI5 to open up and reach out in new ways.”

And he added: “Much of what we do needs to remain invisible, but what we are doesn’t have to be. In fact, opening up is key to our future success.”

MI5 follows GCHQ and NCSC in joining Instagram. And new MI6 boss Richard Moore – better known to 007 fans as “M” – began using Twitter last year.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph Mr McCakkym added that joining instagram is "a routine step for most organisations, but more interesting when you're in the business of keeping secrets."

He said MI5 must find a balance: "On the one hand, our ability to serve the public and keep the country safe depends critically on operating covertly."

But Mr McCallum says their operations will not become "an open book".

He explained: "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.”

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