The Streisand Effect does not refer to the fact that it seems like everything Barbra got involved with became a huge success. She is, after all, one of the few people to have won the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) awards.
The Streisand Effect relates to a 2003 lawsuit in which Streisand claimed that a website illustrating coastal erosion invaded her privacy because one of its 12,000 images happened to show her Malibu, California home. Streisand wanted the photo removed from the site. The suit was dismissed and the resultant publicity prompted hundreds of thousands of people to download the photo, which had been accessed only four times prior to Streisand initiating legal action. The term Streisand effect was coined to refer to an attempt censor information that unintentionally publicizes that information.
According to Wikipedia, 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.
I had never heard of this effect until this week, when I was reading about Facebook and Twitter’s decision to suppress information that the New York Post had published about the possible questionable involvement by the Biden family in the Ukraine.
Commentators from varied political backgrounds criticized the actions taken by Facebook and Twitter, arguing that they could have amplified the effects the newspaper story may have had thanks to the Streisand effect.
As much as I love Twitter, I don’t agree with its decision, or Facebook’s, to purposely restrict the flow of information on the Internet. I think people should be allowed to make their own judgments about the validity of what they read on the Internet.
That being said, I understand it is a tough decision because there are times when I support such oversight.
For example, I have no problem with Twitter not allowing the dissemination of graphic videos depicting violence or child abuse.
So where do you draw the line?
I guess that’s where the legal system comes into play, helping to clarify, as best it can, what is permissible censorship, and what is not. As usual, advances in technology, such as the ability to instantly reach millions through social media, have surpassed the ability of our legal system to keep pace.
In the meantime, I think I am going to start a campaign where I try to spread the word that my blog has been blocked by both Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps people will be so intrigued to find out why my blog has been blocked, that “Borden’s Blather” will become a top 50 search term in Google, and the WordPress servers get overwhelmed.
Of course, it’s more likely to result in the “Borden Effect”, the phenomenon that none of my crackpot ideas ever work out…
P.S. fun fact – did you know that Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond went to high school together!
*image from Wikipedia