Hackers have accessed the accounts of a series of celebrities on the popular micro-blogging Web site Twitter and left a variety of pornographic and dubious messages and links.
In the most serious breach of security for the burgeoning blogging site, beloved of the tech community, hackers have targeted more than 30 accounts including those belonging to Britney Spears, Barack Obama, Facebook, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez and the Huffington Post.
[Fox News Channel's Twitter account was also hacked with a message regarding commentator Bill O'Reilly.]
Twitter users post short updates — of less than 140 characters — on their accounts which can be followed by other users. The site has rapidly gained popularity since its launch in April last year.
Increasingly celebrities have signed up as a way of connecting with their fans, and many news outlets use Twitter to alert people to new stories posted on their Web sites.
The hackers found a way to take over the online tools used by Twitter's support team to post the false updates or tweets, Twitter said in a blog posting.
During the security breach, Britney Spears falsely posted about the size of her genitals, Barack Obama (who has not used Twitter since his election victory) posted a link to a poll with the prize of winning free gasoline, Rick Sanchez said he was not coming into the office because he was high on crack cocaine and Facebook listed a link to a pornography site.
All the false postings have now been taken down and the accounts returned to the rightful owners, Twitter said.