LONDON — A cyber attack — officially known as a “distributed denial of service” attack — took the BBC website and streaming service, iPlayer, offline on Thursday.

Visitors to the sites were greeted by an error message, “Error 500 – Internal Error,” which stayed in place for around three hours.

The BBC initially described it as a “technical issue.” The press office tweeted: “We’re aware of a technical issue affecting the BBC website and are working to fix this now. We’ll update you as soon as we can.”

A “distributed denial of service” occurs when a site is bombarded with more traffic than it can sustain.

The issue allowed the Twitterati to have fun at the BBC’s expense. #BBCDown was trending Thursday morning in the U.K., alongside #HappyNewYear. Some alluded to the fact that British navy submarines carrying nuclear weapons have been instructed that the BBC ceasing operation may be taken as a sign that Armageddon has occurred.