The Streisand effect in 10 perfect examples

by | Jul 15, 2022 | New Identity, Rebuild Your Brand, Reputation Crisis | 1 comment


The Streisand effect is explained in ten significant events and their unfortunate aftermaths.

The Streisand Effect is a phenomenon in which concealing knowledge causes it to spread further. When sensitive information is made public on the Internet, celebrities and organizations frequently find themselves in awkward circumstances. Inadvertently triggering the Streisand effect.

We may believe that taking action quickly is the best option, yet on the Internet, information travels at a rate that no one can keep up with, and censorship can light up a problem like a Christmas tree. Because the narrative is too astonishing to pass up, we’ll start with the effect’s namesake, the Streisand effect.

Barbra Streisand is number ten on the list.

A photographer shot aerial images of the Californian Coastline in 2003 for the Californian Coastline Records Project as part of a 12,000-photo collection. The goal of the project was to persuade government officials to take action against coastal erosion. One of the thousands of photographs included a clear shot of Barbra Streisand’s mansion. She was furious and instructed her lawyers to take legal action, which they did by filing a $50 million lawsuit. The photo had only been downloaded six times before the case, two of which were by Streisand’s lawyers.

The site’s traffic soared to 420,000 visits in the following month after the story was picked up by the media. The photo was widely circulated on the Internet, and the lawsuit was dismissed by the Los Angeles Superior Court, adding to Streisand’s displeasure. If that wasn’t enough, the Court ordered her to pay more than $150,000 in legal fees and court costs to the website’s owner.

The phrase “Streisand Effect” wasn’t coined until two years later. It was coined by Mike Masnick of Techdirt to explain the incident between the Toronto Airport and the website urinal.net. The Greater Toronto Airports Authority ordered that the name of the airport be removed from the website, along with photos of the airport’s urinals. When word of the incident got out, people started flocking to the location merely to view two ordinary urinals.

Uber is number nine.

Taxi drivers protested on the streets of Central London in June 2014, voicing their objection to Uber, an app that uses a Smartphone’s GPS capability to identify you and connect you with a driver. The app was just recently gaining traction in major European cities. The demonstration was not just a flop but also drew attention to the issue thanks to the Streisand Effect. Compared to the previous week, Uber recorded an 859 percent increase in downloads. Since its launch in 2012, the app has also attracted the most sign-ups.

Ralph Lauren (number 8)

Two blogs, Photoshop Disasters, and BoingBoing published a photo of a model from Ralph Lauren.

The girl’s pelvis has been altered based on its size. “Dude, her head’s bigger than her pelvis,” reads the caption on the original BoingBoing post.

When Ralph Lauren heard the news, he decided to take action. He issued cease-and-desist letters to the two blogs, alleging that they were infringing on copyright laws and ordering the photo to be removed. BoingBoing refused to take down the image and pointed out Ralph Lauren’s copyright blunder.

The image fell under the category of fair use, which permits it to be used for news and commentary. Ralph Lauren apologized for the skewed ad, not for the cease-and-desist letters. Lauren got angry after the photo went viral on the internet. When it was revealed that the model had been sacked because she was “too heavy,” even more people were upset. She weighed 120 pounds at the time.

Beyoncé is number seven.

Beyoncé gave an energetic performance during the 2013 Super Bowl, and Buzzfeed shared 33 photographs of her “Fiercest Moments” from the game. Beyoncé’s spokesperson politely requested that some of the pictures that appeared unpleasant be removed from Buzzfeed.

Rather than complying with the publicist’s modest request, Buzzfeed published a new article titled “The Unflattering Photos Beyoncé’s Publicist Doesn’t Want You To See.” The first post was a flop, but the second one was a hit. “I am confident you will be able to find some better photographs…,” the publicist wrote in an email to Buzzfeed. #5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 19, and 22 are the worst.

Thank you kindly.” Beyoncé was quickly transformed into the Hulk, a weightlifter, and the face of the Ermahgerd meme, thanks to the Internet. Buzzfeed went on to say that they emailed a response asking why the photographs were deemed unflattering but that they never received a response.

The Interview No. 6

North Korea couldn’t stand still when they learned that Sony was releasing a film about Kim Jung Un. The country erupted in rage when a GIF of the scene depicting the dictator’s execution was posted online. Sony’s corporate emails were stolen out of nowhere, sparking a dispute involving President Barack Obama. The hackers attempted to prevent The Interview from being released in theatres by threatening to bomb big cinemas if it was shown. Most cinemas decided not to show The Interview due to concerns about the safety of attendees. Sony pulled the film, but it was later revealed that it would be made available online. Several independent theatres decided to screen it, including one owned by George R. R. Martin.

On Christmas Day, The Interview was released on computers and in independent cinemas.

The New York Times, for example, gave the film a bad review but explained why they went to see it: to support freedom of speech and to find out what all the commotion was about.

Roko’s Basilisk is number five.

We’d warn you that many people who discover Roko’s Basilisk wish they hadn’t, but that will probably make them want to read it even more. Although there is a definite Streisand Effect, Roko’s Basilisk was not aware of it due to a warning.

Roko’s Basilisk is a proposal discussed by a member of LessWrong, a site dedicated to increasing human rationality.

It describes a hypothetical artificial intelligence that would penalize people who did not assist in its creation. This includes persons who were aware of AI in the past but did nothing to aid its development.

When the initial post about Roko’s Basilisk was deleted, and any debate on the topic was forbidden from the original site, the number of people who discussed it grew. Because it has the power to excite a person’s psyche based on data obtained through their interaction with any type of technology, Roko’s Basilisk may punish people from the past.

The notion is extremely abstract, but just thinking about it caused such a stir that the debate had to be halted. Some LessWrong members even found out how to erase all traces of their online presence in order to avoid the Basilisk from imitating them again.

The Pirate Bay is number four.

The British Phonographic Industry asked The Pirate Bay to delete torrent connections to copyrighted music of the company’s members in July 2011. The torrent site declined, forcing the corporation to take legal action.

The UK’s High Court ordered five major Internet service providers to prohibit access to the torrent’s website in April 2012. This turned out to be a disastrous strategy that simply served to boost The Pirate Bay’s popularity.

The embargo was put in place on May 1, 2012, but that day, The Pirate Bay had about 12 million more visitors than it has ever had. The torrent site allowed users easy means to get past the block as soon as it was put in place, allowing them to continue accessing The Pirate Bay’s torrent links.

Jennifer Lawrence is number three.

An extensive photo leak of nude celebrities went viral in August 2014. Jennifer Lawrence’s legal team requested that Google erase the photos’ connections.

The photographs had already been widely publicized, but additional developments were reported in the media.

The hacker changed the domain name of the host site, which trumped the legal action and Google’s attempt to prohibit access. Meanwhile, when Lawrence spoke to Vanity Fair about the photographs in an interview, the public became even more aware.

Google has been under legal pressure to take decisive action, with a lawsuit for $100 million threatening the search engine. After the photographs had traveled far and wide. Google announced that it had taken down tens of thousands of photos and terminated many accounts.

2. Samsung and ghostlyrich

Ghostlyrich, a YouTube user, posted a video of his Samsung Galaxy S4 catching fire for no apparent cause. He filed a formal complaint with Samsung, who generously offered him a new phone in exchange for his removing the video.

Instead of taking the offer, ghostlyrich made a follow-up video, which has over a million views. In it, ghostlyrich voiced his dissatisfaction with Samsung’s handling of major product safety concerns, claiming that the company does not follow standard warranty procedures.

Since then, there have been several reports of Samsung devices catching fire. An 18-year-old Swiss woman sustained third-degree burns on her legs after her Samsung Galaxy S4 allegedly exploded in her pocket. A man from Hong Kong lost his house in a fire that his Samsung Galaxy S4 reportedly started.

1. Never Seconds and Martha Payne

Martha Payne, nine years old, decided to photograph her lunch and post it on her blog, Never Seconds. Students are not allowed to ask for second helpings of food at her school, hence the moniker.

She described and scored her lunches based on taste, nutritional content, and even the amount of mouthfuls in her posts. Martha was also assisting Mary’s Meals, a local organization that raises funds to feed young African students.

Students and instructors from all over the world contributed images of their own school meals to her blog. Many parents noticed how modest her lunch servings were, and the media eventually took notice.

Following the publication of a report in the press, the school council decided to take action. In an entry titled “Goodbye,”.  Martha explains how she was called out of class and told she couldn’t photograph her meal any longer. She also expressed her concern that she would be unable to acquire sufficient funds to construct a Mary’s Meals kitchen in Africa.

The Streisand Effect ensued: the tale went viral on social media. The school reversed its decision and allowed Martha to continue blogging just one day after being informed she couldn’t snap pictures of her lunch. Martha not only became a celebrity, but she also raised more than enough money for the organization.

When it comes to understanding the “Streisand Effect” and managing the PR crisis event, nobody does it better than Amicus International Consulting, contact us today for more information on how we can help you.