First the British army tried to rejuvenate its image with an appeal to the UK’s “snowflakes” and “selfie addicts” to join up. Now, the new head of MI6 has marked his first day in office by posting tweets complete with emojis joking that he may use the platform to recruit spooks.
Richard Moore, a former British ambassador to Turkey replaced the outgoing Sir Alex Younger as the head – known by the codename “C” – of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service on Thursday.
On his first day in the job, he used the verified Twitter account @ChiefMI6 to say how proud he was to take up the post.
Moore’s joke is nevertheless part of a gradual softening of the image of the service, as well as an effort to broaden the appeal of an organisation often perceived as elitist and the preserve of Oxbridge graduates.
In an interview with the Guardian in 2017, Younger said MI6 would return to “tapping up” potential recruits as part of a drive to attract more black and Asian officers. He said he believed the service had to make a conscious effort to “reflect the society we live in”.
He added: “Simply, we have to attract the best of modern Britain. Every community from every part of Britain should feel they have what it takes, no matter what their background or status. We have to stop people selecting themselves out.
“We have suffered from groupthink in the past. We have to get the maximum [number of] differentiated points of view in the room and for people to have the confidence to say what they think. Even if it’s not the popular thing to say, even with people like me.”
Moore’s approach to social media is also markedly different to that of another predecessor, Sir John Sawers, who as he prepared to officially take the post was embarrassed by the revelation that his spouse had been posting details of their private life on Facebook using lax security settings.
Pictures of the then incoming C’s family and details about their children and the location of their London home were made easily accessible to millions of people.