An email from the New York Times that was supposed to go to about 300 subscribers was instead accidentally blasted to 8.6 million people, the newspaper reported.

The email sent out Wednesday told people they'd cancelled their print subscription, and urged them to reconsider by offering a special discount -- 50% off for 16 weeks. The message sparked an immediate and widespread reaction on Twitter from New York Times readers who thought the Grey Lady had been hacked.

A spokesperson said the email was sent by a Times employee, and was not spam as the Times had originally indicated. The email went to both home delivery readers as well as digital-only subscribers, among others who had shared their email address with the paper. The paper sent out another email late in the day apologizing for the confusion. The email's subject title, appropriately, began with the word "CORRECTION."

"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. We regret this error and we regret our earlier communication noting that this email was SPAM," said Danielle Rhoades Ha, director of communications for the Time, in a statement.

The spokesperson told the News that the paper is reviewing the error.

The Times "will take every precaution to ensure this does not happen again."