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Facebook becomes Facespook

A friend of mine, who's a big James Bond fan, once attended an interview for an unnamed "research" job that promised foreign travel.

Of course he shouldn't have told me and everyone else he blabbered to, but he's one of the worst secret-keepers who ever lived - which would have made him a terrible candidate for the job, as it turns out.

After signing the official secrets act he was informed that the job was for the secret service. It was then that he regretted wearing his 007 socks that day.

Nowadays he wouldn't have spotted the job advert in The Guardian. He's have been poked on Facebook - possibly by a gold finger.

In a less than top-secret manner it has been revealed that intelligence service MI6 is using the social networking site to recruit its next generation of spies.

"A number of public channels are used to promote job opportunities in MI6 and Facebook is a recent example of this," said a Foreign Office spokeswoman.

One advert targets people who are bored with their current jobs: "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."

Obviously Facebook is the perfect place to find people who are bored with their jobs, as that is where most people scan their friends' dull doings when they should be doing something they actually get paid for.

But are these the sort of people we want to send out on assassination missions? Does the Bourne identity come with a profile listing Jason's favourite TV shows?

A quick view of the profiles of Facebookers reveals that a great number of them would be ineligible for the security forces. The Secret Intelligence Service states that it is unable to accept applications from anyone who: has used Class A drugs (e.g. Ecstasy, Cocaine etc) in the last 12 months, or used Class B/C drugs (e.g. Amphetamines, Cannabis etc) in the last 6 months.

Anyone who had the misfortune of watching BBC 3's recent Spooks: Code 9 will be thinking that's exactly how the secret service does recruit its pretty young spies - all the characters seemed to be about 17 with no prior experience in espionage or indeed any full-time employment at all (except for some modelling for Topshop). It was so poor that all the torture scenes were nothing compared to the pain their viewers had to endure.

Presumably MI6 would ask its new secret agents to not mention their new job on their Facebook pages. "John Smith is ... flying to Prague to poison the Dutch ambassador" might just give the game away.

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