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'Sesame Street's' YouTube channel briefly showed porn, not Elmo

October 17, 2011 |  1:20 pm

Sesame_street
Not even Sesame Street is safe, it seems.

Over the weekend, "Sesame Street's" YouTube channel was compromised, with hackers going into the channel and substituting X-rated pornography for videos of Elmo, Cookie Monster and assorted celebrities singing about letters and numbers.

Parents, you've heard it before, but we're going to say it again: Don’t let the little ones surf the Web unsupervised. In fact, don't even let them watch the Web unsupervised.

The hacking of "Sesame Street" lasted only about 20 minutes before the channel was suspended by YouTube for "repeated or severe violations of community guidelines," according to a report about the incident in the IT security blog Naked Security. The channel is now back online in its original G-rated format, currently featuring an animated video about bullying.

An official statement on the page apologizes for any inconvenience experienced by viewers on Sunday and explains that the channel was temporarily compromised and has since been restored to the original lineup of the best classic "Sesame Street" video clips.

But in the online world, 20 minutes can have long-lasting repercussions.

The story about the incident, which was reported by several news outlets including CNN and Entertainment Weekly, has gone viral -- with many outlets mining humor from the situation with headlines that said “brought to you by the letter X.” But many of the most recent comments on the channel's page decidedly not kid-friendly.

Some people expressed outrage that anyone would hack "Sesame Street's" channel, but a larger percentage seemed disappointed that the porn was taken down. We'll spare you the details of those messages, but we will say they drive home the point that unsupervised Web viewing isn't a good idea -- even if the little ones can't read with much skill yet.

The "Sesame Street" folks suggest that, if you'd like to watch videos with your preschooler in a safe, child-friendly environment, you go to, where else, www.sesamestreet.org.

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-- Deborah Netburn

Image: The "Sesame Street" gang in all its G-rated glory. Credit: Sesame Workshop

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