Kanye West has stirred up controversy online after tweeting his support for embattled comedian Bill Cosby.

The outspoken hip-hop star has been on a Twitter tear over the past week as he prepares to launch his much-anticipated album and new clothing collection on Thursday (11Feb16), and on Tuesday (09Feb16) he stunned followers by backing Cosby, who is currently fighting sexual assault accusations from more than 50 women.

West wrote, "BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!!", much to the dismay of thousands of Twitter users, who immediately took aim at the rapper.

Among those who criticised West was comedienne Sarah Silverman, who tweeted, "Kanye!! You can't be for real. FIFTY WOMEN. With nothing to gain thanks to a statute of limitations ON RAPE. Oy," while Scandal actor Josh Malina added, "KANYE WEST DELUDED !!!!!!!!!!"

West has yet to respond to the online outrage, posting tweets related to basketball star LeBron James' Nike shoes and his New York Fashion Week show instead.

Cosby has been accused of rape, drugging and performing inappropriate sex acts by over 50 women in the past 18 months. The comic, who has never been charged in relation to any of the decades-old incidents, maintains he is innocent.

Kanye recently apologised to fellow rapper Wiz Khalifa after a Twitter misunderstanding - West thought a tweet about a marijuana brand was a reference to his wife Kim Kardashian, and attacked Wiz, the estranged husband of his ex-girlfriend Amber Rose, on the social media site. The two rappers have since patched up their differences.