March 21, 2013 at 11:36 AM ET
The BBC Weather Twitter account began posting some peculiar updates Thursday. You could argue that they were loosely weather themed, yes, but the tweets were a series of digs at countries and heads of state in the Middle East.
"Sorry about that, we were hacked. Normal service resumes," tweeted the account after a couple of hours of very strange behavior.
A group called the Syrian Electronic Army claims credit for the hack, as well as takeovers of BBC Twitter accounts @BBCarabicOnline and @bbcradioulster, which also apologized for being hacked.
The BBC was prompt to say they were working on taking back control of the runaway accounts. Now a spokesperson tells NBC News that things are back to normal, and the odd tweets have been deleted.
"We apologize to our audiences that this unacceptable material appeared under the BBC’s name," the spokesperson said.
On the BBC Weather site, the hackers wrote in nearly complete sentences, mostly devoid of typos. Aside from making a declaration of support for Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad, the hackers made topical jokes pertaining to various Middle East conflicts — though mostly tasteless, a few were even snicker-worthy.
Possibly as a result, the account's follower count spiked by a few thousand, and at least one guy said he liked the hacked version more.
Pro-Assad hackers have attacked other media in the past year. In August 2012, the Reuters news service was hacked twice in 48 hours — first on the Reuters blogging platform, then again on Twitter — by a group that published fake, pro-Syria headlines.
In celebrating the hack, one of the official Twitter accounts of the hacker group Anonymous referred to @BBCWeather as a "Zionist mouthpiece."
BBC News itself ran a story about Thursday's Twitter hack.