How to become a Facebook spy

A couple of years ago there was a spy show on TV called Alias starring Jennifer Garner. It was all harmless hokum, of course, mainly consisting of the future Mrs Ben Affleck donning a variety of ostentatious wigs and tight latex outfits, and parachuting into cocktail parties in exotic locations on the search for some Renaissance oojamaflip or other.

At the beginning of every show you would learn how Sydney Bristow (the character played by Garner in the series) had been recruited out of college by what appeared to be a top-secret branch of the CIA, only to subsequently find that they were baddies, and that the real CIA wanted her to work as a double-agent.

I was thinking about the plotline of Alias today as I read that MI6, the British secret service, is turning its back on recruiting spies at Cambridge and Oxford, and is using Facebook instead to recruit the next generation of James Bonds. According to The Guardian newspaper, adverts on the social networking website are popping up inviting young people to apply for a position.

Two of the adverts read as follows:

“Time for a career change? MI6 can use your skills. Join us as an operational officer collecting and analysing global intelligence to protect the UK.”

“A career in world events? Help influence world events, protect the UK. Operational officer roles collecting and analysing global intelligence.”

Of course, if more intelligence agencies begin to recruit online there’s nothing to stop ne’er-do-wells posing as them.

We’ve seen plenty of criminal gangs pose as legitimate financial organisations to recruit money mules – is it too fanciful to imagine that in the future there may also be vulnerable internet users who might believe that they are working for for the intelligence services? If you have to be as good looking as the stars of Alias to get recruited then probably not many of us need to be worried..

* Image source: Pshab’s Flickr photostream (Creative Commons 2.0)