What is the Streisand Effect?
The Streisand Effect refers to a situation where information becomes more public despite - and even as a result of - attempts to hide or censor it. With the easy access to information provided by today's high-tech systems, information hiding has become more difficult. In addition, global connectivity through networks and the Internet has enabled information to be disseminated wider and faster than ever before.
All types of information are susceptible to the Streisand Effect. This includes technical elements such as access keys, visual images, audio and video. In some cases, data is sensitive due to criminal charges or scandals that may be related.
The Streisand effect is named after the American actress and entertainer Barbra Streisand. Experts attribute the term to Streisand's 2003 efforts to hide information about her home in Malibu, California, which included a lawsuit against the California Coastal Records Project, a grassroots project that offers views of the entire California Pacific coast. Pictures of home and other information generated more publicity as a result of Streisand's attempts to hide them.
In many cases, if certain information cannot be effectively deleted from IP networks and social platforms, it has the potential to go viral on the internet. There is often an element of retaliation in these situations; People who believe that censored or hidden information should be freely available could quickly make that information available to a wider digital audience. Popular examples of the Streisand Effect include viral video and other attempts to make sensitive data entertaining to enable online replication.
Previous examples of the Streisand Effect should be enlightening to governments, private companies, or other groups or agencies seeking to censor or block access to data. The rule here is that without complete control over a piece of data, efforts to hide it will often result in much more publicity than if it was left open.