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The Streisand Effect: What Does It Mean?

Have you ever heard of the Streisand Effect? It’s a phenomenon named after Barbra Streisand, who attempted to suppress photographs of her home taken by an aerial photographer. The attempt drew more attention to the photos than they would have otherwise received. The lesson? Anything you try to hide will only become more public. Learn more about the Streisand Effect and its implications in this blog post.

Is Streisand Effect harmful for the right to privacy?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the specific situation in which the Streisand Effect is said to occur. In general, however, the Streisand Effect can be seen as harmful to the right to privacy because it can lead to unwanted public scrutiny and attention. Additionally, the Streisand Effect may also have a chilling effect on free speech and open communication, as people may become hesitant to speak out or share information for fear of similar negative consequences.

streisand effect

What Is Streisand Effect?

Streisand Effect is a phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely.

The term is derived from the case of American entertainer Barbra Streisand, who in 2003 unsuccessfully sued photographer Kenneth Adelman for posting aerial shots of her Malibu home on the internet. The lawsuit increased public awareness of the photograph far more than it would have otherwise received.

Cease-and-desist letters are frequently utilized to attempt to restrict information, but instead of being prohibited, the data receives widespread coverage, including media extensions such as videos and spoof songs that may be mirrored on the Internet or distributed via file-sharing networks.

The Streisand effect is an instance of reactance in psychology, wherein once people are informed that some information is being withheld from them, they become far more inclined to seek it out and pass it on.

Cease-and-Desist Letters:

The purpose of cease-and-desist letters is to communicate to an individual or organization that they are engaging in activities that may be illegal, harmful, or in violation of agreements. The letter typically requests that the recipient stop the specified behavior immediately. Cease-and-desist letters are often the first step in legal action and can be followed by further legal proceedings if the requested actions are not taken.

While cease and desist letters are most commonly used in the field of intellectual property, particularly copyright infringement, they are “often utilized in disputes involving intellectual property and represent an important component of the intellectual property law landscape.” A cease and desist letter is an official document issued by the holder of an intellectual property right, such as a copyright, trademark, or patent, to inform a third party “of the right holders’ rights, identity, and intentions to enforce the rights.”

A cease and desist letter could be a one-page letter or may be a multi-page document that includes an offer of a license, as well as a threat of litigation. A cease and desist letter is often the first step towards litigation, and it frequently prompts licensing negotiations.

Examples of Streisand Effect:

Anne Applebaum, writing in The Washington Post in February 2018, addressed the Polish Holocaust legislation, which would have made it a crime to ascribe responsibility for the Holocaust to Poles. She claimed that the Streisand effect would bring more attention to historical topics that the Polish government wanted to hide. The party’s historical policy is a project to portray the story of ethnic Poles as only victims and heroes, which is part of Law and Justice’s political program. 

The law was widely condemned by Western nations as a violation of free speech and academic freedom, as well as a barrier to open discussion on Polish collaborationism, in what has been dubbed “the most serious diplomatic dispute in [Poland’s] recent history.”

In October 2020, the New York Post released emails purported to be from Hunter Biden’s laptop, which allegedly describe a corruption conspiracy. The New York Post’s own Twitter account, and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, among others, were among those who were blocked from Twitter after sharing a link to the report.

The story was also banned by the site. According to MIT researchers, the boost of 5.5 thousand shares every 15 minutes to 10 thousand shares shortly after Twitter banned the narrative demonstrated how the Streisand Effect nearly doubles the amount of attention a story receives.

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