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The Streisand effect: trying to hide something creates the opposite effect

The Streisand effect: trying to hide something creates the opposite effect

September 30, 2022

In 2005, a pilot and a photographer flew over several locations along the California coast to obtain quality aerial photographs. The intentions of both were to publish some of those images in a specialized web, but the chance wanted that among the pictures they appeared some in which it appeared the house of the famous singer Barbra Streisand .

So far everything is more or less normal, but what happened after is no longer so. The singer, upon learning of the publication of those images, demanded the withdrawal of the same to the Internet portal, since she interpreted the movement as a violation of her privacy. As a consequence, information that if nothing had been done would have gone completely unnoticed under the waves of information that daily shake the network of networks became viral; hundreds of thousands of people happened to know where Barbra Streisand lived, even without intending it.


This anecdote served to baptize a type of phenomenon that is actually more common than it seems. It's about the Streisand effect , very well known in the field of Social Psychology and the disciplines linked to communication.

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What is the Streisand effect?

The Streisand effect is, fundamentally, an Internet phenomenon what happens when a person or organization tries to keep an information hidden and, precisely for that reason, what they try to keep away from the focus begins to become known, either by calling the attention of the media in the first place or by viralising through personal accounts of users that "extend" that news.


That is, the Streisand effect is a consequence of forgetting that what we do with the information is in turn another type of information that can draw more attention than that with which everything started. Thus, the second one causes the first to gain interest and its popularity spread, especially through the Internet, a medium in which the news flies.

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Its effect for marketing

This fact is something that is of special interest for both famous people and companies that want to keep a good image. The latter, for example, frequently receive complaints from unsatisfied users and, in the face of this, sometimes choose to eliminate evidence of those complaints. In turn, this can make the shot backfire , either because of videos-denunciation published by those affected, comments that are being shared by the walls of Facebook, etc.


In addition, on the Internet there are many people who are interested in discovering these injustices, however small they may be, and dedicate time and a minimum of effort to make more people aware of this kind of situation.

Thus, many companies bet more on the transparency not necessary for ethical aspects of their work, but to prevent the Streisand effect even if it is of low intensity (for example, with a local scope that leads to an information propagating through a city) .

A lot of what is done to build a strong brand image can go to waste if from one day to another certain information is viralized and discredits the entire organization, so it is worth investing in preventing these situations, for example, hiring a community manager who is responsible for mediating with dissatisfied customers without restricting your freedom of expression.

Why is the Streisand effect produced?

The Streisand effect can be understood from two concepts: reverse psychology and infoxication .

Reverse psychology is the phenomenon by which individuals begin to feel more attraction for an option when it has been forbidden, or when the possibility of seeing it has been forbidden. It is, in fact, something that is sometimes used to educate young children. The idea is that, if it is necessary to impose the prohibition to opt for that option , then the prohibited content must have some kind of interest, one in which we did not have to think if someone had not appeared to limit our range of possible actions.

On the other hand, infoxication is the phenomenon of a progressive production and accumulation of irrelevant information in which all types of news are buried, which, based on certain objective criteria, can be understood as useful.

By default, the publication of a news makes it quickly forgotten unless it is broadcasted from the beginning by a medium with a wide audience. But nevertheless, about irrelevant news it is possible to build a more relevant , for example, trying to keep it hidden. This makes that information is "refloated" and breaks that natural progression that would take it completely unnoticed and forgotten in a few days.


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