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GCHQ intelligence agency joins Twitter

Do Not UseDo Not Use 16/05/2016

The UK's intelligence agency GCHQ has set up an official account on Twitter.

It said it had taken the step as part of an ongoing strategy to be more accessible and open about the work it does for the UK.

The first tweet that it sent from the @GCHQ account was just two words: "Hello, world."

It said it would be sending messages about its history as well as languages, maths, the outcomes of missions and technology.

In a statement, GCHQ media head Andrew Pike said the agency would not share intelligence updates or give away the "tradecraft" it employs. Instead, he said, it would be a way for GCHQ to get involved in debates on technology and cyberspace which was key for a "technical organisation with computing at its core".

This technical focus also drove GCHQ's choice of its maiden message, said Mr Pike. The short phrase is often the first that people learning to code get displayed on screen as they wrestle with a programming language.

One of the first accounts @GCHQ followed was @007 - the official account for fictional spy James Bond.

Many people on Twitter said it was ironic that they were now following GCHQ, given the agency's widely reported work on large-scale surveillance.

The Twitter account follows other moves by GCHQ to engage with the technical world. It also maintains a repository on the Github code-sharing site through which it has shared one of its internal tools called Gaffer. The tool helps with the analysis of large-scale graphs.

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