Last year, the joke site made international headlines when the online version of China's Communist Party newspaper hailed an Onion report naming North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as the "Sexiest Man Alive" — apparently unaware it was satire.
In 2011, U.S. Capitol Police released a statement refuting tweets and an article claiming members of Congress had taken a group of schoolchildren hostage. It included a doctored picture of Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner holding a gun to a child's head.
The Chicago-based publication was founded in 1988 by two students in Madison from the University of Wisconsin. Starting as a local college newspaper, it became a national comedy institution and went online in 1996, and has since developed a television news parody.
The publication is distributed weekly in cities, but it has also embraced Twitter and has an app for the iPad and other tablets. It says it averages 40 million page views and roughly 7.5 million unique visitors per month.