Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Word Wednesdays: Streisand Effect


The Streisand effect is a phenomenon on the Internet where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be widely publicized. Examples are attempts to censor a photograph, a number, a file, or even a whole website, especially by means of cease-and-desist letters or other chilling effects. Instead of being suppressed, the information sometimes quickly receives extensive publicity, often being widely mirrored across the Internet, or distributed on file-sharing networks.[1][2] Mike Masnick said he jokingly coined the term in January 2005, “to describe [this] increasingly common phenomenon.”[3] The effect is related to John Gilmore's observation that "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."[4]

The term Streisand effect originally referred to a 2003 incident in which Barbra Streisand sued photographer Kenneth Adelman and for US$50 million in an attempt to have the aerial photo of her house[5] removed from the publicly available collection of 12,000 California coastline photographs, citing privacy concerns.[6][7][1] Adelman claims he was photographing beachfront property to document coastal erosion as part of the California Coastal Records Project.[8] Paul Rogers of the San Jose Mercury News later noted that the picture of Streisand’s house was popular on the Internet.[9]



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