“This is vital journalism. It adds to concerns I have had about the placement and role of 77 Brigade people in public life more generally."
A Twitter executive, responsible for the Middle East, has been exposed as a British Army soldier active in the ‘information warfare’ unit, dedicated to propaganda, known as the 77th Brigade, an exclusive report by the U.K.-based Middle East Eye outlet has revealed.
There are fresh questions over the relationship between social media companies and western security states after details emerged about Twitter’s high-level staff. Middle East Eye revealed that Twitter executive Gordon MacMillan is a member of the 77th Brigade of the U.K. military, which claims to have “the capability to compete in the war of narratives at the tactical level”.
The revelations come amid recent controversies around Twitter banning accounts critical of U.S. foreign policy. In August almost 1,000 accounts that criticized ongoing protests in Hong Kong were banned from the platform.
The 77th Brigade is an amalgamation of two existing British military units, the Media Operations Group and the 15 Psychological Operations Group.
“In our 77 Brigade … we have got some remarkable talent when it comes to social media, production design," Army General Nick Carter said speaking of the mission of the brigade at a London think tank.
"We also, though, need to continue to improve our ability to fight on this new battlefield, and I think it’s important that we build on the excellent foundation we’ve created for Information Warfare through our 77 Brigade which is now giving us the capability to compete in the war of narratives at the tactical level.”
There are also concerns about the role Macmillan is playing in U.K. politics. Investigative journalist Kit Klarenberg found tweets that showed hostility towards Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been critical of U.K. interventions in the Middle East, “Maybe I'm just being cynical/paranoid/worse. But @GordonMacMillan's tweets about Corbyn and Labour are universally negative and almost universally negative respectively,” Klarenberg commented in a tweet.
Former soldier Joe Glenton, who was imprisoned following his refusal to return to another tour of duty in Afghanistan, and hit the headlines after attending an anti-war rally, also commented on the revelations saying “This is vital journalism. It adds to concerns I have had about the placement and role of 77 Brigade people in public life more generally."
Both Twitter and the 77th Brigade claim that they do not have a formal link.