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GCHQ comes to Twitter to provide "news, updates, and opinions"

The UK's GCHQ - like its US counterpart the NSA - is an agency traditionally shrouded in secrecy. Tasked with the job of spying on all and sundry in the name of intelligence gathering, the agency has just joined Twitter, greeting other users with an unoriginal "Hello, world".

With the concerns about privacy and security that blew up in the wake of Edward Snowden's NSA surveillance revelation, spy agencies around the world have been on a mission to boost their public image. GCHQ - complete with the blue tick reserved for verified accounts - will use Twitter to "provide news, updates, and opinions".

The agency says that it wants to become more accessible and for people to better understand what its work is about. But GCHQ tweets will not be limited to blowing its own trumpet it seems. In a press release it says: "We also want to reach out to the technical community and add our voice to social media conversations about technology, maths, cyber security, and other topics where we have a view. We will be using Twitter to talk about our history, mission outcomes, languages, maths, cyber security, technology and innovation, job opportunities and as a way of signposting events, publications, news, blogs, and opinion pieces".

Feeling the need to explain its choice of wording, GCHQ says: "Our first Tweet: "Hello, world" is one of the first programs you learn to write in coding languages such as C, Python, Java, PHP, and Ruby. For those just starting to program, getting "Hello, world" to appear on a screen is a gentle introduction to coding, and as a technical organisation with computing at its core, it resonated with many of our staff who have learnt to program during their career."

The account is proving a little slow to pick up followers at the moment, but you can bolster the numbers by tracking down GCHQ on Twitter yourself.