STUDENTS who posted intimate reviews of sexual partners online could face legal action for defamation.

A North-East university has warned students to avoid innuendo-packed reviews after the  craze saw thousands  signing up to rate their sexual encounters.

The warning from Newcastle University was issued after a reported 8,000 people signed up to a Newcastle Facebook page called Rate Your Shag which encourages students to give their sexual partners marks out of 10.

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It followed similar Facebook pages set up by students at scores of other UK universities, including Durham University and York.

The pages - which were removed by Facebook after complaints - urged users to "name them, shame them and if you must, praise them."

While many of the posts were humorous in nature others included the names of individuals.

Because the identities of those making the ratings are protected but those of their victims are not, lawyers have warned that Facebook or individuals could be liable to court action over postings.

Although Newcastle University points out that the offending page was entitled Newcastle rather than Newcastle University, it is thought that most of the 8,000 people posting comments were students from the university.

A spokesma said: "Students must treat each other with respect on-line. It is particularly important to remind students that postings they make on-line can be seen by parents and future employers."

Isabel Martorell, a privacy specialist at the law firm Carter Ruck, told The Independent newspaper: "The courts have made clear that information about a person's sex life is very much private, thats also the case even if whats being posted about the information is untrue. They would still be able to bring a complaint."

Cressida Peever, a student journalist writing for The Palatinate, Durham Universitys student newspaper, expressed concern that just one of the three Durham versions of Rate Your Shag has close to 2,000 likes.

"This means that the equivalent of one eighth of the student body has decided to endorse the page within the brief 18 hours that it has been live," she said.

"This page is not funny. At best, it will be a source of shallow amusement for friends to chide each other. At worst, it is offensive, hurtful and embarrassing that members of our university can follow such a disgusting trend."

Students in York set up an alternative rate your shag group for anyone who wanted to relate their innuendo-packed encounters with carpets.