Some 8 million people received emails from the New York Times on Thursday offering a special discount if they would reconsider their decision to cancel their subscriptions.
The trouble is, the offer was supposed to go to only about 300 people who had decided to stop taking home delivery of the newpaper. Instead, it was erroneously sent by a New York Times employee to more than 8 million people on an email marketing list.
The debacle lit up social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, sparking concerns that hackers might have broken into the newspaper's computer network to send out spam.
A spokeswoman for the newspaper blamed human error, saying hackers were not involved and security was not at fault.
''An email was sent earlier today from The New York Times in error. This email should have been sent to a very small number of subscribers, but instead was sent to a vast distribution list made up of people who had previously provided their email address to The New York Times,'' the paper said in a statement.
The email offered a 50 per cent reduced rate for 16 weeks on home delivery.
The New York Times is owned by New York Times Co.