Hackers in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad yesterday took over the Agence France-Presse (AFP) photo department's Twitter feed.

Messages posted by the hackers, accompanied by graphic photos, included the following: "#Syria #Obama backed rebels use child to behead prisoners," "#Obama backed #Syria Rebels pledge Allegiance to Al Qaeda," and "A comparison between #Obama the family man, and his treatment of a family in #Pakistan."

At its main Twitter feed, AFP wrote, "It appears our @AFPphoto Twitter account has been hacked. Recent photos posted are NOT ours. Unable to delete but working on it." The account was later suspended.


"In a tweet, an online group known as the Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsiblity for hacking the AFP account," AFP later reported. "The group has previously claimed credit for hacking the websites of Sky News Arabia and Al-Jazeera Mobile, as well as those of governments in the region."

"In a similar incident in August, Reuters' blogging platform was hacked by what appeared to be pro-regime hackers in Syria," writes International Business Times' Umberto Bacchi. "A false interview with a Syrian rebel leader claiming the FSA had pulled back from the city of Aleppo was posted on the Reuters News web site."

"The tactic of hacking social media was also employed during the recent Israel/Gaza conflict, when the vice president had his account taken over, and is one of many tactics employed in the 'information war' that underlies contemporary physical conflicts," write Business Insider's Geoffrey Ingersoll and Michael Kelley.

"This is just the latest in a long string of black eyes for Twitter security -- with every hack, we're left wondering when more rigorous security and two-step authentication will be rolled out," writes The Verge's Nathan Ingraham.