Tencent, Asia's biggest internet company, has fallen for a spoof news report about athletes having huge amounts of sex at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The satirical American website The Onion carried a story entitled: "Olympic village tour: see where the athletes live, train and f--- each other." The video showed supposed athletes having sex in almost every corner of the Olympic village, in gyms, canteens and stadium roofs.
Tencent's sport channel carried a report about the video on its news website saying "Western media" had released "explosive" footage showing a "crazy sex party" in the Olympic village.
The Tencent report said the prevalence of one-night stands among athletes was an open secret and that the Olympic organising committee had already distributed 100,000 condoms.
"In this two-minute long video, we have seen many crazy scenes. Having sex on a balcony is comparatively very conservative," it said.
"We can see people crazily making love in public squares, restaurants and gyms. Even though there are other people training or eating nearby, the wildness of these crazy love makers still cannot be stopped," the report said.
However, the article also quoted comments by internet users who said the video was fabricated to smear the Winter Olympics.
Tencent could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Mainland news portals, such as Ifeng.com and the website operated by the Shenyang Daily reposted the Tencent story.
The website of Wen Wei Po in Hong Kong also reposted the story, but later replaced it with another story on the popularity of the dating app Tinder among athletes taking part in the Winter Olympics.
A staff member at the website of the newspaper said they picked up the story because it "appeared funny" and that it already contained online comments that the video may be fake.
It is not the first time the mainland media has been duped by The Onion. The English-language website of the Communist Party's People's Daily amused the world in 2012 with a 55-page photo spread of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after he was named the "Sexiest Man Alive for 2012" by The Onion.
The website quoted The Onion saying that "with his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman's dream come true".
The story was picked up by the websites of the Yangtse Evening Post, the Guangming Daily and Phoenix Television. Only Phoenix Television's website made it clear The Onion was a satirical website.
The Onion later asked its readers to visit the website of the People's Daily, saying it was a "proud Communist subsidiary of The Onion".