The Streisand Effect

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

37 thoughts on “The Streisand Effect

  1. Do you want me to help you spread that word? Maybe throw it some vague info to get their curiosity too? ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Anyway, when it comes to censoring, I think they go over the top. Some of my content even get’s blog in twitter for “containing adult material” why? I got no idea. One example is a photo of a smiling woman with a poem about true friendship… right that truly deserve to be censored because this world shouldn’t know about friendship!

    As for child abuse videos and other horrible graphic stuff, they depressed me, but I think it’s not more terrible than reading another crime.


  2. I did not know they went to high school together. I did hear that they had a falling out after he stopped bringing flowers to her.

    I agree about the censorship. They treat us as if we’re not smart enough to make good judgments about information. But what can we expect from a country that had a president who was born in Kenya?

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  3. I bet you would increase your views that way, LOL!People are naturally curious! I didn’t know it had a name but it is a true thing. I have to agree with you about the child abuse videos! Why do they need to show them?? What good do they serve and why would people want to watch them?? I can’t even watch movies that show that, let alone watching real life child abuse!!

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  4. It’s a tricky question. I typically like less government intrusion, but there are always exceptions, as you point out.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am with you and Pete on this one, Jim! I am not exactly sure where I think the line should be between free speech and censorship. It used to be the threat of libel and slander lawsuits that limited the false statements made by people, but technology today circumvents any real opportunity to limit speech in that way. There will always be questionable sources of information, so maybe it is best to allow individuals to determine the validity of what they read. I will need to think on this more. Great post!

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  6. I’ve not heard this, but I have my own version of the ‘Streisand effect.’ since high school on, random people all over the world, (sounds more dramatic than it is), have stopped me to say, or ask me, “has anyone ever told you that you look like Barbra Streisand?” as soon as they say, “has anyone ever told you….” I can fill in the end of the sentence. I told my brother this a few years back, and he didn’t believe me, until later in the day we went to the movies together and the ticket taker literally asked me in front of my brother. I always say, “I wish I had half her voice.” babs and I went through our perm phase together, and continued to keep pace. that being said, I love knowing about this effect and the next time someone asks me, I’m just going to say, “it’s the Streisand effect.”

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  7. I hadn’t heard that before but it makes sense. We all want to know what we’re told we can’t or shouldn’t. I didn’t know that about Barbara and Neil. Interesting. I wonder how Neil is faring these days. I love his music and was lucky to see him perform in person a couple of times.

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  8. The high school with Streisand and Diamond must have had awesome school musicals.

    I don’t have an easy test for where to draw the line on censuring internet info. Misinformation and false information is a problem. Some people have given up on being able to know what is true.

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  9. I had not heard of this before but I totally believe in it! Itโ€™s human nature to want to see and know what someone is keeping from you. I hope Facebook doesnโ€™t block your blog! The thought of having to sneak around some kind of block to read your posts sounds like a lot of technical work that my be beyond my scope of technological abilities! That would be sad for me!! Have a good week!

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  10. In the ‘good old days’ of journalism, where news wasn’t an opinion like it is now, there were tabloids. Would it be fair to say that everyone knew that tabloids were ‘salacious celebrity gossip and sensational news’ that you read with a certain degree of skepticism because it contained many falsehoods?

    That description seems to apply now to much of main stream media and most certainly to social media. Sadly, many people don’t have a clue to how biased and false many news sources are today.

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  11. A fun fact that I hadn’t heard b4…I agree with some censorship but it is a grey area and we should be able to make our own minds up we can scroll on by or remove ourselves which I did the other day from one of the Fb groups I was subscribed to…we are adult (most) of the time anyway…haha

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  12. Negative energy sells! I guess I won’t ever go viral & get Google to recognize anything I’m saying either. Censorship is supposed to protect people, but it often backfires! There is too much ugly in the world that needs it. At the same time, those bad things that come to light such as human trafficking and such that gets attention from the media can turn a negative into a positive through awareness. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. ๐Ÿ™‚

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