Federal intelligence agencies have grown increasingly comfortable with using social media tools to spread the word about their work, officials said this week.

Kelli Arena, Chief of Strategic Communications at the National Security Agency (NSA), talked about the intelligence community’s (IC) social media outreach at a July 12 event organized by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA).

“A lot of people are surprised to know that the NSA is active on social media. We have a Facebook account, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, we’re on LinkedIn and YouTube,” Arena said.

“We are very active on the speaking circuit, making sure that our folks are out there meeting with possible recruits, partners and academia, in the corporate space and in many conferences,” she said.

The increased move to social media has been one of necessity for intelligence agencies, who need to communicate accurate information about their missions amid the rise of disinformation in the public communications sphere.

According to Neil Wiley, Professor of Practice at the University of Maryland Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security (ARLIS) and Managing Principal of Lyseon Consulting LLC, the messaging by intelligence agencies through social media needs to be incredibly precise in order to avoid the spread of false information.

“The decision to place intelligence information and intelligence community-sponsored information in the public domain is both a policy decision, and it is something which is not done lightly,” said Wiley. “In my experience the messaging is actually very carefully considered to ensure that we are as accurate as we can be as informative as we can be, and we are not misleading.”

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.