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Rescue crews hit by web pranksters

AS rescue services struggled to cope with storm Sandy, they were hampered by pranksters on Twitter who disseminated rumours and falsified photographs.

One false tweet claimed the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange was under several feet of water.

The exchange issued a denial, but not before the tweet was circulated by countless users and reported on-air by CNN, illustrating how Twitter had become the essential -- but deeply fallible -- source of information.

A year after Twitter gained attention for its role in the rescue efforts in tsunami-stricken Japan, government agencies, news outlets and residents in need turned to it at the most critical hour.

Beginning late on Sunday, government agencies and officials, from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to @NotifyNYC, an account handled by New York City's emergency management officials, issued evacuation orders and updates.

As the storm battered New York on Monday night, residents encountering clogged 911 lines flooded the Fire Department's Twitter account with appeals for information and help.

But by late Monday, fake images began to circulate, including a picture of a storm cloud gathering dramatically over the Statue of Liberty and a Photoshopped picture of a shark in a submerged residential neighbourhood.

A Republican campaign manager has resigned over his 'irresponsible' tweets.