4. The Streisand Effect
The Streisand effect is the way in which attempts to hide, remove, or censor information can lead to the unintended consequence of increasing awareness of that information. It is named after American singer and actress Barbra Streisand, whose attempt to suppress the California Coastal Records Project's photograph of her cliff-top residence in Malibu, California, taken to document California coastal erosion, inadvertently drew greater attention to the photograph in 2003.
4. The Streisand Effect
The Streisand effect is an example of psychological reactance, wherein once people are aware that some information is being kept from them, they are significantly more motivated to access and spread that information.
Two years later, Mike Masnick of Techdirt named the effect after the Streisand incident when writing about Marco Beach Ocean Resort's takedown notice to urinal.net (a site dedicated to photographs of urinals) over its use of the resort's name.
In 2017, the government of South Africa stated their intention to ban the book The President's Keepers, detailing corruption within the government of then-President Jacob Zuma. This resulted in sales of the book skyrocketing dramatically, and it sold out within 24 hours before the ban was to be put into effect. This made the book a national best seller and led to multiple reprints.
In February 2018, Anne Applebaum wrote in The Washington Post about the Polish Holocaust law, which would have criminalized blaming Poles for the Holocaust. She argued that the Streisand effect would draw more attention to aspects of history that the Polish government preferred to suppress. The legislation is part of the historical policy of the Law and Justice party which seeks to present a narrative of ethnic Poles exclusively as victims and heroes. The law was met with widespread international criticism, as it was seen as an infringement on freedom of expression and on academic freedom, and as a barrier to open discussion on Polish collaborationism, in what has been described as "the biggest diplomatic crisis in [Poland's] recent history".
On June 18, 2022, The Times reported claims that Boris Johnson had tried to hire his now-wife Carrie Symonds as his chief of staff when he was foreign secretary. Although it was published on its first printed edition, it was then swiftly removed without explanation. It was also mentioned on MailOnline, who rewrote the Times' story in the early hours of the morning before also deleting its article without explanation or an editor's note. Rival newspaper The Guardian mentioned that this incident could backfire as an example of the Streisand effect. A few days later on June 21, 10 Downing Street said that the prime minister's special advisers asked The Times to retract the article, leading to questions about the objectivity of the editorship of the newspaper.
On December 5, 2008, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) added the English Wikipedia article about the 1976 Scorpions album Virgin Killer to a child pornography blacklist, considering the album's cover art "a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18". The article quickly became one of the most popular pages on the site, and the publicity surrounding the IWF action resulted in the image being spread across other sites. The IWF was later reported on the BBC News website to have said "IWF's overriding objective is to minimise the availability of indecent images of children on the Internet, however, on this occasion our efforts have had the opposite effect". This effect was also noted by the IWF in its statement about the removal of the URL from the blacklist.
The Streisand effect has been observed in relation to the right to be forgotten, the right in some jurisdictions to have private information about a person removed from internet searches and other directories under some circumstances, as a litigant attempting to remove information from search engines risks the litigation itself being reported as valid, current news.
In an article published in the International Journal of Education, Sue Curry Jansen and Brian Martin explained how the Streisand effect is a consequence of failed censorship attempts. These outrage-management processes include cover-up, defamation of the target, reframing events, false justice, and intimidation or rewards.
The attorneys at Minc Law have removed over 50,000 pieces of unwanted content. Before offering any advice, we always consider the Streisand Effect. We work with clients to create the most effective strategy to ease the harm caused by negative content, ever-mindful of the potential for making things worse.
Yesterday, Digiday released an article stating that brands should not apologize on Social Media. The story made me curious since it refers to the reaction of US Airways apologizing after deleting a tweet with pornographic material. I made some research about the reach caused by the deletion of the tweet before the excuse of US Airways was made. In this way I wanted to seperate the effect caused by the deletion of the tweet from the one of the apology. I combined these figures with some thoughts if and how apologies on social media can be helpful. This is my result.
Our fellow word nerds at Merriam Webster are watching the phrase "the Streisand effect." At least one of our listeners is watching it too, and alerted us to the verb "to Streisand" which appeared in a TechDirt.com article last June.
The "Streisand effect" goes back to an incident in 2003, when singer Barbara Streisand sued a photographer who was trying to document erosion on the southern coast of California. The photographer took an aerial photo that included Streisand's house and put it online. Streisand sued to have the photo removed.
The phrase "Streisand effect" was coined in a 2005 article on TechDirt.com. Writer Mike Masnick wrote about a resort that sued over a photo of one of its urinals. The resort didn't want the photo attached to its name and wanted it taken down.
In addition to the "Streisand effect," we now have the verb "to Streisand," as our listener noted. As of yet, neither have appeared in standard dictionaries. If dictionary inclusion is your goal for these terms, you might consider telling the Internet to stop using them.
This trope existed before the Internet was even a gleam in DARPA's eye, but since the spread of information is much faster, easier, and more difficult to prevent across the Internet than through other means, it is far more widespread and effective now.
A form of Revealing Cover-Up; also a specific form of Hoist by His Own Petard. Usually a Hydra Problem as well. Sometimes related to Clumsy Copyright Censorship and, more rarely, Fanwork Ban. Will lead to an Open Secret and Suspiciously Specific Denial as another side effect. See also Internet Counterattack. Compare to Thought-Aversion Failure (telling someone to not think about something will lead to them thinking about it). Basically opposite to Forced Meme, where the individual or company tries to make something as popular as possible and fails in much the same way for much the same reasons. Totally Radical can be seen as an inversion: a figure of authority attempts to embrace something, in extreme cases causing people to lose interest in it because the "official" endorsement is seen as proof that it has lost whatever originally made it interesting. People who avert this Just Ignore It.
History The Tranby Croft Affair, which was used as inspiration for Moonraker by Ian Fleming, was a card-cheating scandal in 1890. Arthur Wilson, friend of Prince Albert Edward (the future King Edward VII), held a dinner party for Edward's friends and retainers. One of them, Sir William Gordon-Cumming of the Scots Guard, was caught cheating during an illegal game of baccarat. He signed an agreement never to play cards again in exchange for everyone's silence, but word quickly got out. Gordon-Cumming attempted to sue for slander, which led to all of the witness accounts of his cheating being publicized across the United Kingdom and the first time an heir to the throne had been called to the witness stand since 1411. The scandal caused Gordon-Cumming to be dismissed from the army and kicked out of all of his clubs.
In 1972, Siemens, a German megacorporation, sued a German satirist for writing a satirical history of the company. The trial ultimately brought much more attention to the company's sordid history during World War Two: using forced Jewish labor in their factories to supply electrical parts to Nazi concentration camps and death camps.note In 2020, Siemens has a net worth of $150 billion.
Herostratus may be the Ur-Example: He set fire to the Temple of Artemis in a bid for notoriety. In response, he was sentenced to a damnatio memoriae forbidding anyone from mentioning his name (either orally or in writing). As to how effective that law was? Well, you see, if it had worked, then this footnote wouldn't be here.
Defied by the British government in 1921, when they debated whether the laws forbidding men from engaging in homosexual acts should be extended to women as well. They ultimately decided against it in the belief that many women didn't know it was even possible to have sex with other women, and that by criminalising it, they would be alerting them to that possibility.Lord Desart, the Director of Public Presecution: You are going to tell the whole world that there is such an offense, to bring it to the notice of women who have never heard of it, never thought of it, never dreamt of it. I think that would be a very great mischief.
The Turkish Government's refusal to acknowledge The Armenian Genocide has helped bring attention to an atrocity that might have otherwise been forgotten (at least outside the regions it occurred). Indeed, many people in the new world wouldn't even have heard of Armenia if it wasn't because it was related to an atrocity that somehow keeps Turkey out of the EU.