May 6, 2013 at 7:24 PM ET
The Twitter account of satirical news website The Onion was briefly in the control of Syrian activists Monday morning. After restoring the account, The Onion mocked itself and the hackers in a series of articles.
Beginning late Monday morning, the Onion Twitter account began tweeting content that, even for the famously acerbic comedy site, seemed a bit off:
It became clear over the next few minutes that the account had been hacked, and that The Onion was the latest victim in a string of hacks of online news outlets by a group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army.
Only a few tweets were put out during the period the account was hacked; notably, the tweets remained "in character" for the Onion, imitating the site's style while in no way disguising the fact that it was a hack.
The Syrian Electronic Army, an activist hacker group that has taken over several high-profile Twitter accounts recently, claimed responsibility for the attack on The Onion's Twitter account, afterward posting images of internal mails showing upcoming articles.
This would not be the first time the SEA attempted to use humor in its messaging — when the BBC Weather Twitter feed was hacked, tweets were filled with regional gags, such as "Saudi weather station down due to head-on collision with camel."
The Onion did not respond to repeated queries from NBC News Monday. But always in search of new ways to make fun of world affairs, Onion staffers took the opportunity to quickly write retaliatory posts, announcing their new password ("OnionMan77"), mocking their own layout, and offering sarcastic tips on how not to get hacked. (Warning: As always, Onion content contains some not-safe-for-work language.)
Update: Shortly after this article as posted,The Onion responded, saying that the articles linked above constitute their "official response."
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.