Actress and singer Vanessa Williams received an apology from Miss America's pageant organisers over how she was treated when she was forced to give up her crown in 1984 when nude pictures of her were published in the Penthouse magazine.

Williams, who was the first African American to win the coveted Miss America title in 1984, returned to the pageant, this time in the judges' chair at the 2016 pageant in Atlantic City.

The competition's executive chairman Sam Haskell III apologised to Williams following her performance at the pageant. "I have been a close friend to this beautiful and talented lady for 32 years. You have lived your life in grace and dignity and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned.

"Though none of us currently in the organisation were involved then, on behalf of today's organisation, I want to apologise to you and your mother, Ms Helen Williams. I want to apologise for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be."

In addition the Williams' return, the pageant's iconic song, "There she is, Miss America" also made a return, the first time since 2012, following a dispute with the estate of its author Bernie Wayne.

In addition, social media such as Twitter and Facebook was used, for the first time to vote for the "America's Choice" winner, Reuters reports.

It said the introduction of social media comes on the back of the pageant, which has been ongoing for 95 years, struggles to "maintain its relevancy".

Pageant judges score contestants from 50 US states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands based on a talent competition, a personal interview, answers to an on-stage question and appearance in gowns and swimsuits.