Happy Birthday to my most favourite effect: The Streisand

Exactly ten years ago today, the internet finally gave a name to one of its favorite phenomenons, the Streisand Effect. Or: What happens when you try to censor something and the internet loses its collective shit, dumping even more attention on it. And what a glorious decade it’s been.

The term was first used in 2005 in a Techdirt article commenting on the Toronto airport’s attempt to invoke trademark law, which resulted in a whole slew of negative press. The term itself, however, refers to that time back in 2003 when photos of Barbra Streisand’s home briefly became an internet sensation after she initially tried to suppress the photos. Of course, if Barbra hadn’t made such a fuss, no one would have cared in the first place. Thus, the Streisand Effect is that special thing that happens when illegitimate attempts at censorship and good, old fashioned trolling join together to make magic.

Many people who become victims of the Streisand effect on Whaleoil start off with legal letters and over the top threats, both of which I tend to publish and then we can all have a good look at what’s going on.  I especially like the ones that go “Our client wants this [already public] information removed from your web site, or we will commence defamation procedures”.  Yes, like public defamation action will keep the information you want to keep quiet… erm.. quiet.


The Streisand effect won’t stand for it.


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