Forbes Takes On The Streisand Effect; If I Ask Them To Take It Down Will It Become More Famous?

from the hello,-lawyers dept

Earlier this week I spent nearly an hour on the phone with Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg discussing the concept behind “The Streisand Effect,” the phrase I jokingly coined, which has taken on a life of its own. He’s now written up an article looking at the Streisand Effect and how not understanding it has backfired for so many companies (and governments). The key is pretty simple, I think. Lawyers who are used to taking a hard stance in a negotiation do things the way they always have: send out a nasty cease-and-desist letter that they view as the opening play. When people receive such a nasty, threatening communication, they feel like they’re being bullied (and often, that’s true). And, these days, it’s much easier for anyone to respond to being bullied by letting others know who the bully is, exposing them as a bully. If there really is a miscommunication, a much smarter way to deal with it is to keep the lawyers away, and simply contact the person or site who’s doing something you think is wrong to see if there’s a way to fix what’s wrong. Most of the conversation with Greenberg, though, was trying to come up with the best examples of the Streisand Effect in action, which he then put into one of’s infamous slide shows. There are many more examples that didn’t make the cut, but it was fun to go back through some of the older ones. In the meantime, maybe I should send Forbes a cease-and-desist for using the phrase. After all, that will only make it more popular, right?

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Comments on “Forbes Takes On The Streisand Effect; If I Ask Them To Take It Down Will It Become More Famous?”

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The Brothers says:

Easy way to promote Techdirt: SUE!

Want to really spread the gospel of Techdirt? Sue Forbes to try and get them to stop using the term “Streisand Effect”. Sure, the suit would be frivolous, but the resulting chaos on Digg would be priceless publicity. It would guarantee that the term achieved Internet immortality. It would also be one of the tightest possible bits of irony.

(PS – See Mike, I don’t just hate on Techdirt, I want to help!)

Larry says:

Streisand Is A Loser

The best part about the Streisand story was the fact that she tried to duke it out with a rich guy who told her to go pound sand. Most people wouldn’t have the time or the resources to defend themselves in court, but that guy did, and he won. For those who don’t know, the man she sued for invasion of privacy was taking pictures of the California coastline as part of an ongoing environmental project. It just so happened that part of her seaside backyard was shown in some of the pictures. You couldn’t have identified any personal information no matter how hard you tried.

Government agencies would never have the resources to pool together this kind of data without the help of these volunteers. Nobody gives a shit about Streisand’s backyard. They want to see eroded coastline and physical changes, not aging booty in a see-through nightie, flipping the bird to the guy who dared to take pictures of her precious backyard.

Bignumone (profile) says:

Just bloviating

Thank you Larry for explaining what the “Streisand effect” is. I had no idea!

It is funny, but that is a perfect illustration of what the author coined the phrase to represent. Good for you, Mike, good eye!

What is truly astounding is how we seem to think being a bully is the way to handle everything. Had Streisand just called the photographer and talked, those photos may never have seen any more light of day. Instead, she looked like more of an ass than we all know she is. (I blame that on ‘star mentality’, but that is a different subject) The same with many cease and desist letters. A judicious phone call or nice letter explaning why people need to stop what they are doing avoids many hard feelings. But we don’t do that, we call out the ‘big dogs’.

Ahhh, anyhow, I think this is what Mike was getting at originally. I will cease and desist now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

> I find it hilarious that the only place I have ever heard “The Streisand Effect” is on tech dirt, yet every time Mike mentions it he makes it out to be as popular a term as “Bennifer”

Um. Paul? The whole point of this post is that Forbes has a whole article about “The Streisand Effect.” In other words, it obviously has become a lot more popular than here on this site. I don’t think Forbes writes about stuff that is only popular on one blog.

Also, Paul, there’s a great site called Google that lets you do a thing called a “search”. If you do one of these “searches” on “streisand effect” you might notice that there are 590,000 results — most of which are not on tech dirt at all.

In other words, go back to your little cave and come back when you learn to use the Internet.

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