The Streisand Effect-Will You Suffer From It?

The Streisand Effect was coined by the founder of the Techdirt website, Mike Masnick in 2005. It is so named because of a photo a man once took on Malibu beach that just happened to have Barbara Streisand’s home in the background. Until Streisand voiced her concerns to the photographer and took him to court it had been downloaded just 6 times. After she went public with it the effect was viral.

Basically, it’s  when you attempt to have something taken down from the internet and the publicity from trying to do it in fact increases the popularity and newsworthiness of the particular video, image, text, or reference you are trying to have deleted. Unfortunately sometimes the result is the total opposite of what you were trying to do in the first place.

In this video, Andrew Radics and Ian Hopkinson discuss the phenomenon known as ‘The Streisand Effect’.





Ian: Will you suffer from the Streisand effect?

Andrew: I hope not! What the hell was that?

Ian: Is that the Streisand effect? When Barbra Streisand comes really close to your face.

Andrew: Nah, that is not what the Streisand effect is about.

I actually love this: Streisand effect! This was in 2003. A certain photographer was taking pictures of Malibu beach he happened to get Barbra Streisand’s home in the background in Malibu. She wanted the picture to be taken down. He said: “No.” Barbara took him to court. And of course it all blew up. And before it was all made public there were only 6 downloads of that photograph. After all the publicity there were 420,000 visits every month to that website.

Ian: Oohhhhhhh……

Andrew: That is why they call it the Streisand effect!

Ian: An attempt to get the photo suppressed or taken down it went viral. This happens a lot, this kind of thing!

Andrew: But the reason we are talking about it today is because of all this new stuff about the right to be forgotten. And of course it is not just everyday people who are doing that. Celebrities who take Google on for whatever reason it’s  publicity. For example you might remember this one a few months ago at the superbowl. A site called BuzzFeed published some rather unflattering, if you like, fierce moments of a Beyoncé performance! Nobody seemed to make too much of a deal of it till the publicist called them and told them that they want those photos taken down because they are very unflattering.

Ian: It was BuzzFeed how took the photos or?

Andrew: They just published them.

Ian: Alright.

Andrew: They of course refused and went back to the photos and put a heading to it saying: “The “unflattering” photos Beyoncé’s publicist doesn’t want you to see!” Of course like you said before it all went viral. Not just on that website. People copied the photos. Tweeted about it. Posted it on Facebook and so on. It just went crazy!

Ian: Is this sort of like “Keep your friend close, but your enemies closer”?

Andrew: Yeah, Exactly.

Ian: Don’t get the journalist ticked off they will take you to task.

Andrew: Absolutely And another case. Our favourite person, Tom Cruise. It was a video of him talking about scientology. But it was only meant for members. And of course they wanna take it down. The place that it was published on refused and of course it went absolutely crazy.

Ian: So people were re-posting it on other websites?

Andrew: Yep.

Ian: Do you feel sorry for that happening to them? That is kind of the world we live in.

Andrew: Another example, a few months ago,  in Europe somebody puts in a request to take down a result. The very person who started all of this, Mario Costeja Gonzales, he was the one that fought a legal battle about the right to be forgotten. He complained that in Google, when you google his name an article from 16 years ago came up about selling a property to recover money that he owed. He wanted that taken down. He then had to take Google to court with that came publicity.

Ian: Did they take it down?

Andrew: Yes.

Ian: And now we are talking about him…

Andrew: This is actually a report from BBC news, from today: As of this moment his name conjures up hundreds of thousands Google search results.

Ian: Okey.

Andrew: He wanted a few taken down and now he is more popular than ever!

Ian: It backfired! We can call this the Gonzalez Effect instead of the Streisand Effect.

Andrew: Well, the Streisand has been around longer.

Ian: Has it really?

Andrew: Yeah, 2003!

Ian: Geeee…

Andrew: Sorry, Correction, 2005.

Ian: But still! That seems like an eon ago in Internet land.

Andrew: It does. Sometimes it just better, if  you find something about yourself, to just let it go. Unless it is really slanderous. It’ll get buried in the Google results. Just let it go.

Ian: Yeah. Some of the technology people I have seen in the Valley do that. Were they’ll say look we got it wrong. And instead of making a defending it and making a big thing of it they’d say: “Look we got it wrong. This is the world we live in. Everything’s in bata. We’re very sorry and we’ll move on. And then it is not a news item.

Andrew: Well, exactly!

Ian: It is for a moment. But it doesn’t continue. The only thing is I did see a video, I think it was Mark Zuckerberg where they said: Facebook apologises a lot don’t they? And somebody put together all the times they had said Sorry. “Sorry, we got it wrong!”“Sorry, we got it wrong!” “Sorry!” “Sorry, Sorry!”

Andrew: Yep!

Ian: And I thought: well okay at least they are not initially putting up these walls of excuses. To make the story last longer. It’s a smarter way of approaching it.

Andrew: And just a word from a public relations expert who says that modern celebrities who are open to twitter trolls and online parodies need the skin of a rhino. And that is a part of your “celebreteism’.

Ian: It is. And it has always been that way. It is just that the internet has enhanced it. Exponentially.

Andrew: Yeah.

Ian: I saw one of the late shows. I cannot remember which one of the late shows it was. But they had a lot of actors on there. And they were reading terrible tweets about themselves. I e insulting tweets about themselves. Very cool! I believe Matt Damon, you know, big time actors. Insulting tweets like: “ Matt Damon has a really, really big nose!” “He is a blithering idiot!” And they were reading these tweets about themselves and laughing about them. That is really the attitude you gotta take.

Andrew: Yeah.

Ian: Sorry, it was Graham Norton show! Typical of his humour!

Andrew: Absolutely! And it was also Matt Damon who somebody made up a song about what they wanted to do to Matt Damon and he appeared in the video.

Ian: Yes!

Andrew: He just lets it go. It is the way it should be done if you are in public life.

Ian: It was Sarah Silverman who did the video.

Andrew: I think so yeah. That was brilliant though.

Ian: That’s what you gotta do. So what happens out of that? Matt Damon is cool because he can take a roast and he can join in and roast himself.

Andrew: Yes. Don’t stuff up the Streisand effect! You will be sorry.

Ian: Yes! Don’t do it! Do these people do it because they don’t have any foresight or do they do it because they actually like the attention?

Andrew: Or it could be a roundabout way to get an unflattering story about them buried. And get their struggle to sue Google to the top. It’s too much effort I think. There you go! It will eventually disappear. Who cares!?  Like I said: Unless it is totally slanderous or rude images or whatever it is. But even then the same thing will happen!

Ian: Yeah, exactly. We’ve seen that happen a few times.

Andrew: It’s like when you are trying to ban a movie. What happens? It becomes even bigger! You try to ban a song! It’s gonna go absolutely ballistically viral!

Ian: I remember that video game Carmageddon, it was banned in New Zealand. It wasn’t banned here but it became so much more popular here because it was banned in New Zealand.

Andrew: There you go!

Ian: So, anyway!

Andrew: Don’t suffer the Streisand effect.

Ian: Good advice! What is this? It looks like Barbra Streisand has had a drink.

Andrew: I think this is the lab peoples idea of a Romulan ale. The ice has melted.

Ian: Romulan ale! I did not know Barbra Streisand was a Star Trek fan.

Andrew: My God that is awful!

Ian: On Romulus it would probably taste okay.

Thanks guys! Keep the suggestions coming. And the funny comments! We keep trying and improving! We’re a work in progress!

Andrew: Bye!

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