A New York Times employee misfired an email offering discounted subscriptions to customers who had recently canceled the newspaper, sending it to more than 8 million people instead of the 300 intended recipients.
Questions about the emails hit Twitter on Wednesday, but it took the newspaper several hours to figure out what happened.
Initially the newspaper said it had not sent out those emails.
The email is spam and was not sent from The New York Times, company spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha had told Reuters.
She later apologized for the mix-up: We regret this error and we regret our earlier communication noting that this email was spam.
The incident spawned a parody Twitter account, NYTSpam. Ci@ali$, anyone? I'm tired of trying to sell papers, it said in one of its early Tweets.
(Reporting By Jim Finkle; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)