Web 'out of control' as footballer rumours go viral
THERE were warnings that the internet had got "out of control" yesterday after a wave of rumours about the private life of a high-profile footballer circulated around the world.
Claims, centring on an alleged sexual relationship, began circulating through anonymous text messages and emails on Wednesday.
But within 24 hours the rumours had been picked up on scores of internet discussion boards, blogs and social networking sites. Identical messages posted on football discussion boards named the player and said his team mates were aware of the rumours.
They also said a "gagging order" was in place to prevent the media reporting the story.
But sources close to the footballer dismissed the rumours as "nonsense". His lawyer confirmed there had been no attempt to get an injunction.
Last night the player's name had become one of most popular topics on the social networking site Twitter. So widespread were the rumours that site users had begun posting spoof versions mocking the original.
The messages are the latest in a series of potentially damaging rumours about footballers to go "viral" in recent months. Last week David and Victoria Beckham were forced to issue a public denial after claims they were about to announce a separation became widespread.
Media lawyers warned that the rise of social networking technology meant that it was now becoming impossible to stop such rumours spreading on the internet. "It's out of control. It has just mushroomed," said Sarah Webb at Russell Jones & Walker. (© Daily Telegraph, London)