The Middle East Eye website has revealed that a Twitter executive with editorial responsibility for the Middle East is also a part-time officer in the British Army’s psychological warfare unit.
Gordon MacMillan, who joined Twitter six years ago, has for several years also served with the 77th Brigade, a unit formed in 2015 in order to develop “non-lethal” ways of waging war.
The revelation comes amid fears that Western states are actively trying to curtail the independence of social media companies and shut down alternative views.
MEE says the 77th Brigade uses social media platforms to wage “information warfare.”
On its website the British army unit says: “We are a combined Regular and Army Reserve unit. Our aim is to challenge the difficulties of modern warfare using non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of the opposing forces and adversaries.”
MacMillan declined to answer any questions about his role, as did Twitter and the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Twitter would say only that “we actively encourage all our employees to pursue external interests”, while the MoD said that the 77th Brigade had no relationship with Twitter, other than using it for communication.
At the 77th Brigade’s launch, the media was told that the new unit of “Facebook warriors” would be around 1,500 strong, and made up of both regular soldiers and reservists.