Fans of the popular Netflix original series managed to catch a brief glimpse of the third series after it appeared on the streaming site two weeks before its official release - causing an explosion of activity on Twitter.

The show appeared on the US version of Netflix for around 30 minutes before it was taken down, with the "leak" attributed to a technical malfunction.

The third season of the political drama starring Kevin Spacey as US President Frank Underwood, which is based on the BBC's original 1990 series set in British Parliament, isn't due to be released until 27 February.

"Due to a technical glitch, some Frank Underwood fans got a sneak peak," a Netflix spokesperson said. "He'll be back on Netflix on 27 Feb".

The show's Twitter account added: "This is Washington. There's always a leak. All 13 episodes will launch February 27."

As news of the glitch spread via social media, thousands of people tweeted about the third series becoming viewable. An estimated 55,000 tweets about the acclaimed drama were sent in the first hour.

Some viewers described being able to carry on streaming episodes that they had started watching before the rest of the episodes were pulled.