Rooney v Vardy: Social Media & Cyber Security

FrontRow Legal
October 12, 2019

Whilst many people are worrying about Brexit, the world of celebrity seems to be gripped by another story; Coleen Rooney vs Rebekah Vardy.  If you’re not aware of the story, then allow us to explain.  It all kicked-off on the 9th October when Coleen, the 33-year-old wife of ex-Manchester United player Wayne Rooney, posted an explosive tweet claiming Vardy’s Instagram account was linked to “fake” stories about her personal life in the press.

This was the start of a bitter war-of-words online, played out mostly on Twitter but has certainly gained the interest of mainstream media.  So what does ‘warring WAGs’ have to do with Cyber Security and Data Protection? What this story tells us is that firstly we are ALL publishers.  There are countless stories of people posting comments which have landed them in hot-water either with law enforcement, or has seen them in court.  Publishers historically checked their facts, and their words prior to publication but in our digital world we often hit ‘Send’ or ‘Submit’ without checking that what we are saying is a) true and b) lawful!

What is most interesting about this story however is that Coleen states that “for a few years” someone who followed her personal Instagram account had been “leaking” information from her posts. But interestingly she has posted this information on a public platform, admittedly which only a close set of people have access. But is this information really ‘leaked’ if you post something on a public platform? If I post on FaceBook that I’m going to a special event on X date really be classed as being ‘leaked’ if someone shares that information?  

In Cyber Security we are always asking people to consider Privacy and not ‘over sharing’ online, but for people who live in the public eye this becomes increasingly difficult as they walk a fine line of keeping followers, following and maintaining privacy.  There is no doubt that war-of-words will continue for some time, and will most likely end in court, with Twitter and Instagram posts being cited as exhibit A. Whatever the outcome, the key take away is that the moment you post something online you lose control over it. But does that mean you lose the right to privacy too? That’s another question.

Guest Blogger: Gary Hibberd, Cyberfort


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