Pedro Almodóvar was killed and resurrected on Twitter (Reuters / Kena Betancur)

The power of social media and the speed of gossip online was demonstrated when a Twitter account claimed iconic Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar was dead.

An account claiming to represent a spokesman for the Spanish government sent the tweet "Spanish Government announces the death of Pedro Almodóvar" at around 3.45pm on Friday.

Within minutes there was online hysteria, as fans and news sources scrabbled for more information and tributes began to pour in for the 63-year-old director of Volver, The Skin I Live In, Live Flesh, High Heels and others.

One fan tweeted: "This is the loss of a true film great," while others announced they were in tears.

Minutes later, however, the Twitter acount claiming to represent Spanish politican Cristóbal Montoro was revealed as a fake. Thousands of tweets of relief flooded online.

Guardian film critic Xan Brooks tweeted: "Happy news: Almodovar lives! Probably. Looking increasingly like a hoax account. Now feel like I'm living in Almodovar film ourselves "

One user tweeted: "I take my eyes off Twitter for five minutes and Almodovar dies and is resurrected."

Throughout the whole palavar there was no comment from Almodovar himself, although he probably got a nasty shock when he checked his phone.