The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has blown its cover on Instagram, giving would-be secret agents an intriguing mission to accomplish.
Known for its secrecy, discretion and shadowy spy tactics, the US foreign intelligence service has shown its sense of irony by joining the social media platform.
“We are the nation’s first line of defence,” the account’s bio says, portraying a seriousness more typically associated with the organisation.
Its first post, however, takes a more playful tone. It includes a picture of a desk scattered with curiously placed objects, ranging from a curly grey wig to a pile of foreign banknotes.
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Taken at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the photo is cryptically captioned: “I spy with my little eye…”
The challenge, it would seem, is to identify the objects in the picture. And to give you a clue, a CIA spokesperson told CBS News many of them belong to current employees.
How many can you spot?
The account was opened as part of the CIA’s strategy to recruit a younger generation of officers, agents and analysts.
Most users on Instagram are under 30.
“Joining Instagram is another way we’re sharing CIA’s stories and recruiting talented Americans to serve here,” a CIA spokesperson said.
“Through the account, we’ll give a peek into Agency life, but we can’t promise any selfies from secret locations.”
CIA Director Gina Haspel announced plans to launch the account last week while appearing at a question-and-answer session at Auburn University in Alabama.
So what are the objects?
Here is a by-no-means exhaustive list:
1) A plant, included as a wry reference to the CIA’s foreign intelligence “plants”.
2) A clock whose hands are set to 8:46, the time a plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.
3) A map of China, one of America’s main rivals in Asia.
4) A golden owl said to represent Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. It was offered by the CIA’s Chief Operating Officer, Andy Makridis.
5) What appears to be an amulet that resembles an evil eye – perhaps to represent the dangers CIA agents face?
6) An artwork depicting Tony Mendez, a CIA officer who posed as a filmmaker to rescue six US hostages in Iran in 1980.
7) A pair of cuff-links, reportedly used by CIA agents to identify each other.
8) A grey wig, presumably worn by undercover CIA agents.
9) An ID containing a mugshot of Ms Haspel
10) A top-secret pulp bag, used by agents to destroy evidence.
The account, Ms Haspel said, was an example of how the intelligence service is seeking to modernise in the digital age.
However, the CIA is no stranger to social media. It has accounts on Twitter and Facebook, platforms it joined in 2014.
Its first tweet – “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet” – was similarly tongue-in-cheek, belying its fearsome reputation.