Times Readers Inundated by False E-Mail on Subscriptions

The New York Times said it accidentally sent e-mails on Wednesday to more than eight million people who had shared their information with the company, erroneously informing them they had canceled home delivery of the newspaper.

The Times Company, which initially mischaracterized the mishap as spam, apologized for sending the e-mails. The 8.6 million readers who received the e-mails represent a wide cross-section of readers who had given their e-mails to the newspaper in the past, said a Times Company spokeswoman, Eileen Murphy.

“We regret that the error was made, but no one’s security has been compromised,” she said.

The e-mail urged recipients to reconsider subscribing to the Times at “50% off for 16 weeks.” The false message sent off a flood of Twitter reactions and lit up the Times switchboard.

The Times’s official Twitter feed

: “If you received an e-mail today about canceling your NYT subscription, ignore it. It’s not from us.”

Those initial comments raised questions in some readers’ minds about whether hackers might have had access to their credit card and personal information, a misimpression that Ms. Murphy said the company was now working to correct.

She said the e-mail was sent by a Times employee, and not the third-party Epsilon Interactive, the service The Times uses to communicate with subscribers.

The company will send an e-mail to recipients of the erroneous note to explain the error. Ms. Murphy said notice to readers might also appear on the NYTimes.com homepage.

“It’s in our interest now to make sure people understand the correct situation,” Ms. Murphy said.