- Date Found: 2003
- Used By: Bloggers, Journalists
"No one is supposed to know about it, so naturally, everyone does."
The term Streisand effect refers to the unintended publicity that occurs when trying to censor some piece of information. It was coined in 2005 by Mike Masnick of Techdirt after Barbra Streisand unsuccessfully attempted to have photographs of her house removed from the internet, and sued the photographer for "privacy violations" after photos of her house were published. Because of the publicity surrounding the lawsuit, interest in the photograph was markedly more than had there been no lawsuit.
In 2003, Kenneth Adelman took photographs of Streisand's Malibu mansion for a US government sanctioned project called California Coastal Records Project, which has the goal of documenting changes in the California coastline. Streisand sued Adelman, and Pictopia.com based on privacy laws. The suit failed, since the photographs were taken from public airspace, and the image of her mansion was among 12,000 other images for the project. In the month following the lawsuit, the site was visited over 400,000 times.
- In 2008, Scientology experienced the Streisand effect after they unsuccessfully tried to get a video of Tom Cruise blithering on about their dubious life practices taken down from YouTube. A massive snowball effect ensued which eventually birthed Project Chanology.
- On Halloween, 2006, Nikki Catsouras died when driving while coked out of her mind. The gory crime scene photographs were leaked by two investigators. The subsequent attempt to censor the images by having them removed from the internet only made people look harder for the photographs.
The term "Streisand effect" is used when the coverage of a censorship attempt draws more attention than the item being censored would ordinarily warrant.
- No one knew or cared about that photo until she tried to sue over it -- that's the Streisand effect in action!
- Archive of a 2003 article on the California Coastal Records Project website documenting the Streisand lawsuit