What is the Streisand Effect?

The Streisand Effect is a phenomenon in which a person’s attempt to suppress information can actually help to promote that same information. The Streisand effect was named after Barbra, who unsuccessfully sued a photographer over an aerial photograph of her Malibu home. The effect is not limited to the Internet.

Anyone who is faced with negative information online should be aware of the Streisand Effect. Media often feature high-profile Streisand-effect blunders. Don’t be the next. It’s crucial to deal with unwanted content online in the correct way.

The origins of the word

Mike Masnick of TechDirt was the first to coin the term “Streisand Effect” in 2005. He was writing about the site urinal.net, which had received a request to remove urinals from it. Masnick said:

How long will it take for lawyers to realize that simply trying to suppress something online that they don’t want to see is likely to result in something that many people would have never seen (like a picture of a random urinal at a random beach resort), being viewed by more people than ever before? We’ll call it the Streisand Effect.

Masnick was referring to Streisand’s unsuccessful lawsuit against photographer Kenneth Adelman. Adelman was tasked by the California Coastal Records Project to record coastline erosion using aerial photography.

Barbara Streisand filed a lawsuit against Pictopia.com for posting a photo of her beach home. She claimed it was an invasion of privacy.

The photo had only been downloaded 6 times prior to the filing of the lawsuit. The publicity around the case resulted in nearly half a million views of the picture. Streisand lost her lawsuit as well. This photo has been featured on Wikipedia’s page about the Streisand Effect. It is also the cover image for this blog.

How The Streisand Effect Happens

The Streisand Effect does not occur in every instance of suppressing information. We usually only see this effect in two situations.

  1. It seems unjust.
  2. If the information is salacious.
  3. The person involved seems entitled.

Many people find it unfair that Streisand, a wealthy celebrity, can sue the photographer who posted an aerial photograph of her house. After learning of the lawsuit they went to the website and looked at the aerial photo.

The Streisand Effect was more of a fun factor in the case of the resort urinal. It seems absurd to have a website devoted to urinal photos. Second, it’s comical that a resort cared enough about the website to issue a removal notice. Many people were curious and went searching for the picture when they heard about it.

Not every instance of the Streisand Effect involves a wrongdoing by a company. Many times, people are caught up in a juicy online story.

Take the many incidents where celebrities’ personal information and private photos were released after they had been hacked. Hacking is illegal and violates the privacy of individuals. These celebrities are perfectly justified in removing the material from the Internet. The news about the removal attempts often worsens the problem.

ReputationDefender’s clients are also prone to report a wrongful police arrest, but not the exoneration. Police arrests are not always the result of criminal activity. Unfortunately, arrests are more exciting than news about releases. Many innocent people find that their arrests are listed in search results, but not the fact that charges have been dropped. The added attention to the article is often what causes it to rise when these clients attempt to remove news articles.

Stop The Streisand Effect From Damaging Your Reputation

Avoiding aggressive tactics in the face of negative information is the best way to combat the Streisand Effect. You should choose a different approach if you think your actions might come across as aggressive.

Focus on indirect suppression methods. You’re better off not interacting with the host unless they are likely to sympathize with your cause. Do not click on the link. Don’t tell anyone about your horrible experience. And don’t even post about it online.

It is more effective to cover the item with positive materials. You can do this in many different ways, depending on what type of threat is being faced. We’ve developed strategies to suppress the appearance of negative news articles, blogs, or other materials in search results.