Followers of Fox News trust America's most-watched cable-television network to bring them the biggest breaking stories covering critical issues that other media organisations fail to spot. Who can forget: "Lindsay Lohan vs Gravity: Is Actress Jeopardising Comeback With Bra-Free Lifestyle?"
But a Twitter account operated by Fox News broke a startling story early yesterday morning that seemed too sensational even for the Rupert Murdoch-owned network – that Barack Obama had been shot dead while campaigning at a restaurant in Iowa.
Fox News was quick to issue a statement explaining that the "malicious" tweets were a hoax by online hackers and not the work of its own journalists. FoxNews.com said: "Hackers sent out several malicious and false tweets claiming that President Obama had been assassinated. Those reports are incorrect, of course, and the President is spending the July 4 holiday with his family."
The first of six false tweets appeared on the @foxnewspolitics Twitter feed at about 2am on American Independence Day and said that Mr Obama "has just passed. The President is dead. A sad 4th of July, indeed. President Barack Obama is dead".
The last tweet was more light-hearted, congratulating Joe Biden on becoming the new president: "In such a time of madness, there's light at the end of tunnel."
An unknown individual or group calling themselves The Script Kiddies appeared to claim responsibility for hacking the @foxnewspolitics account on its own Twitter feed, which was later suspended. The posts remained in place for more than eight hours.
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