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article imagePro-Assad activists hacked AFP Twitter photo feed

By Anne Sewell     Feb 27, 2013 in Internet
Aiming to counteract what they call "fabricated news" by Western media sources, pro-Assad activists hacked the Twitter feed of Agence France-Presse on Tuesday and flooded it with propaganda.
AFP's @AFPphoto account was compromised by supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at around 16:45 GM on Tuesday and was hit by tweets and photo tweets constantly for around an hour, until the account was temporarily suspended.
The Syrian Electronic Army, well known for their attacks on Al-Jazeera Mobile and Sky News Arabia, have claimed responsibility for this cyber-attack.
The group has claimed on its website that it was defending the Syrian Arab people against Western media coverage, and stated that news outlets were “broadcasting fabricated news about what is happening in Syria.”
According to deputy global news editor for AFP, Pierre Celerier, the photos that were posted during the attack are not AFP images. He says that they are allegedly images of Iraqi journalists killed in Syria and the site of a car bombing.
The cyber-attack lasted approximately an hour, during which the hackers accused President Obama of supporting the use of child soldiers in the Syrian rebel army, including a photo tweet which allegedly shows a child beheading government prisoners.
The tweet read: “#Obama overturns ban against child soldiers while Syrian rebels continue with the illegal practice twitter.com/AFPphoto/statu…”
A further picture tweet compared a smiling image of President Barack Obama and his family to an image of a family killed by a drone attack in Pakistan:
AFP s Twitter photo feed was hacked by pro-Assad supporters - fair use.
AFP's Twitter photo feed was hacked by pro-Assad supporters - fair use.
Screen capture of @AFPphoto
Another showed a crowd of pro-Assad supporters with the words, "FlashBack: Millions across Syria rallied in support of their embattled President inspite [sic] of foreign pressure. twitter.com/AFPphoto/.."
Yet another tweet showed a photo of Syrian rebels and read:
"TOP picture of the Week (16-22 Feb) - #Obama backed #Syrian Rebels pledge Allegiance to Al Qaeda pic.twitter.com/HVWPLFCm81"
AFP confirmed on Monday that they had also been the victim of a "phishing" attack which attempted to steal employees' identities by trying to force them to log in to a fake AFP website. Is is unclear whether the two incidents are related.
While the Twitter feed has been suspended, the following notes remain on AFP's main Twitter feed:
"Agence France-Presse ‏@AFP
AFP's Twitter photo account hacked http://bit.ly/128IzkB"
"Agence France-Presse ‏@AFP
It appears our @AFPphoto Twitter account has been hacked. Recent photos posted are NOT ours. Unable to delete but working on it."
"Jade Montane ‏@jmontane_AFP
AFP's Twitter account @AFPPHOTO was pirated today at 17h45 Any documents or images posted on this account after 17:45 are NOT from AFP."
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