Not that long ago, an event only became news once it was endorsed by a traditional source such as CNN, ABC, the BBC or Reuters. But times have changed. News is now available instantly online and a fair amount of it is unsubstantiated in other words possibly fake.
On Thursday afternoon the Manchester Evening News ran the following headline on its website: “Zara founder Amancio Ortega registers interest in buying Manchester United.” The story went on to claim that “it is understood he has informed senior executives of his interest in United.” The article did not cite any sources to back up such an exclusive.
The “exclusive” was quickly picked up by the British tabloids – which have millions of readers – and from there, it appeared in Spain’s four most important sports publications: Marca, As, Mundo Deportivo and Sport, as well as general news outlets.
Judging by the number of website clicks and likes on Twitter and Instagram, on Thursday it certainly looked like Manchester United was about to be acquired by Spain’s Amancio Ortega, founder of the Inditex group (which includes the fashion brand Zara) and one of the wealthiest men in the world.
It was fake news. There is no such interest and never was, as Inditex sources later confirmed. It is even questionable whether the founder of Inditex is even a fan of soccer in the first place. Despite his billionaire status, Ortega, 86, is more readily associated with games of domino played in humble taverns with local residents in Sanxenxo, in his native northwestern Spanish region of Galicia.
In truth, it is not even certain that the Glazers, who own Manchester United, want to sell the club. Again there is speculation that the club is for sale, fueled by online social media outlets.