Newspaper's email disaster generates instant parody account.

The New York Times is no stranger to parody accounts, and now there is one more: @NYTSpam.

The impetus behind that new Twitter account: an email message received by many asking people to renew their recently cancelled subscriptions to the New York Times.

Adding to the confusion: Some recipients (like this reporter) never had a subscription in the first place.

Media maven Rafat Ali was one of the first to notice. He tweeted that he hadn’t cancelled his subscription and called the email “weird.” A flurry of other people got it, also, and wondered if the New York Times had fallen victim to a hack.

The newspaper initially said the email was spam and that people who received it should just ignore it.

“It’s not from us,” a Times spokeswoman told the paper’s own Decoder blog.

New York magazine pointed out that Epsilon, which manages the Times’s email databases, was hacked earlier this year.

But the paper then corrected itself, saying that a message that should have gone to 300 people got blasted to 8 million email addresses instead.

No laughing matter for the New York Times public-relations department, surely. But it’s all hilarious material for the creator of @NYTSpam, a parody Twitter account asking people if they want an iPad, IQ tests, or “Ci@ali$ anyone? I’m tired of trying to sell papers.”

The account’s biography states that it is “Not affiliated with @NYTimes or actual spammers—just sick of bad digital strategy.” It has a mere 57 followers, but it’s growing fast. (Sort of like the Times’ digital subscriptions! Haha! Too soon?)

The mildly amusing account tweeted that the reason they’d cancelled their subscription was because “I had cancel home delivery due to my {MISSIONARY WORK} transfer To (West Africa Nigeria) to preach the GOSPEL.”  

Photo by Angela Rutherford

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