Net gossip compromises privacy

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

Mrs Clooney's wee boy George

Mrs Clooney's wee boy, George.

The net has made privacy a valuable commodity for the rich and famous, with site after site dedicated to gossip, sightings and dishing all the dirt.

News and gossip site Gawker is gossip central on the net, pulling information from various news sources and supplied tips.

The ever-lovely George Clooney was more than a tad annoyed by the Gawker Stalker, a section of the Gawker website dedicated to posting celebrity sightings. In fact, he was so annoyed he launched a plan to undermine the site’s credibility.

In an e-mail sent to high-powered publicists, he asks that they join the effort against the site. “Flood their website with bogus sightings. Get your clients to get 10 friends to text in fake sighting … A couple hundred conflicting sightings and this website is worthless,” the e-mail says.

Gawker responded with a “Stalk George Clooney, win-a-prize competition.” Years ago, there was every bit as much interest in the celebrities but getting the information and sharing it with the rest of the world was much more difficult.

If Rock Hudson was in his prime today his chances of hiding his homosexuality would be about as likely as Michael Jackson being employed to run a childcare centre.

Of course, times have changed so it’s unlikely Hudson being gay would cause any sort of scandal.

Let’s face it, it takes a lot these days to scare away the fans — George Michael’s career survived the whole hitting-on-a-bloke-in-a-public-loo scandal and Hugh Grant’s hooker incident doesn’t seem to have put a dent in his earning power.

Even our own Lee Tamahori has been embroiled in a bit of a scandal after being sprung in drag, soliciting a Los Angeles cop for sex.

It doesn’t seem to have done any harm to his Hollywood career, in fact he now has an online game named after him.

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