Several BBC Twitter accounts, including its Weather feed, have been hijacked by a group which posted a number of fake tweets relating to the conflict in Syria.
The BBC Weather, Arabic and Radio Ulster feeds were taken over by the group, calling itself Syrian Electronic Army, on Thursday afternoon.
The tweets included fake statements about the weather conditions in Middle Eastern countries and messages in support of Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad. One of the tweets appeared to have an anti-semitic intent.
The BBC said that it now has control of all three accounts and all inappropriate content has been deleted. BBC staff were alerted to a “phishing” email that had been sent to some BBC email accounts. It was not clear if the two incidents were related.
A BBC spokeswoman said: “We apologise to our audiences that this unacceptable material appeared under the BBC’s name.”
Bizarre posts began to appear on the BBC weather Twitter feed, which has 60,000 followers.
The first tweet after the hack stated: "Syrian Electronic Army Was Here via @Official_SEA #SEA #Syria.” The next said: “Long Live #Syria Al-Assad #SEA.”
The comments included: “Saudi weather station down due to head-on collision with camel.”
Another read: “Chaotic weather forecast for Lebanon as the government decides to distance itself from the Milky Way.”
One tweet advised residents in the Israeli city of Haifa to “return to Poland” to avoid a tsunami.
Chris Hamilton, BBC News social media editor, tweeted: “Account has been hacked, so we don't control it. Working to fix it asap.”
The BBC Radio Ulster and ArabicOnline feed were also affected.
Faris Couri, BBC Arabic's editor-in-chief said in a statement: “Today at around 11.00GMT, BBC Arabic's twitter account @BBCArabicOnline was hacked. Since then, several pro-Assad news tweets were published by the account. We strongly condemn such action and apologise to our audiences.”
The BBC is expected to launch a full investigation into the breach of security, which is the latest in a series of high-profile hacks, following the hijacking of the official Burger King and Chrysler Twitter accounts last month.
Prof Alan Woodward, from the department of computing at the University of Surrey, told the BBC. “The BBC is an obvious place to attack as it a trusted brand and so anyone who wishes to broadcast a message can reach an audience that are likely to pay attention.
“The most likely source of the hack is via social engineering - someone managing to elicit the password by fooling the user who keeps the password.”