China's state-run news agency Xinhua has again fallen victim to a hoax by reporting made-up claims as a genuine story that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post by accidentally clicking on the site.
The original article in NewYorker.com was written by comedian Andy Borowitz under the headline "Amazon Founder Says he Clicked on Washington Post By Mistake". It jokes that the deal had been a "gigantic mix-up".
"No way in hell would I buy the Washington Post," the billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur is quoted as saying. "I don't even read the Washington Post."
The story was also reported as fact by the website of China Radio International. Xinhua, which was founded in 1931 and launched its website in 1997, says its mission was to produce "timely, accurate, credible and fair news coverage".
It was not the first time that it had fallen for spoof stories. It recently published stills from a porn movie which it said was of an execution in the US.
Along with Communist Party mouthpiece the Global Times, it ran a 40-image gallery which, it claimed, depicted the last moments of a female prisoner before she was executed by lethal injection.
The gallery was posted under the headline "An actual record of the execution of a female inmate: Unveiling the world's darkest side," and had no accompanying article or captions.
The photos depict a young Caucasian woman in evident distress being led to a bare white hallway and forcibly strapped to a gurney by a female guard.
But Out of My Face blog revealed that the photos were screenshots from a fetish porn movie entitled Lethal Injection from a rape pornography website.
When the mistake was revealed, Xinhua and the Global Times swiftly took down the gallery.
In November, the People's Daily published a story from The Onion claiming that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had been voted Sexiest Man Alive.