Thursday, June 21, 2012

What Is The Streisand Effect

The Streisand effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely. It is named after entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity and widespread re-posting of the image she wanted to stop.

Similar attempts have been made, for example, in cease-and-desist letters, to suppress numbers, files and websites. Instead of being suppressed, the information receives extensive publicity and media extensions such as videos and spoof songs, often being widely mirrored across the Internet or distributed on file-sharing networks.

Mike Masnick of coined the term after Streisand, citing privacy violations, unsuccessfully sued photographer Kenneth Adelman and for 50 million dollars in an attempt to have an aerial photograph of her mansion removed from the publicly available collection of 12,000 California coastline photographs.

Adelman said that he was photographing beachfront property to document coastal erosion as part of the government sanctioned and commissioned California Coastal Records Project. Before Streisand filed her lawsuit, "Image 3850" had been downloaded from Adelman's website only six times; two of those downloads were by Streisand's own attorneys.

As a result of the case, public knowledge of the picture increased substantially; more than 420,000 people visited the site over the following month.

So think through possible side-effects of your actions when comes to dealing with Internet files, articles and posts.  The old adage that comes to mind is “Let sleeping dogs lie”.

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