Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Streisand Effect

Want to become famous on the Internet? Object to something you read and ask it to be removed from the web.

A few years ago, pilot Gabrielle Adelman and photographer Kenneth Adelman decided to photograph the entire California coastline (see http://www.californiacoastline.com/).

Singer Barbara Streisand objected and insisted that photos of her home be removed from the site, which set off a firestorm of publicity for the photography project. Soon, hundreds of others copied and posted the photos on their websites & blogs, resulting in Google Image Search easily returning the photo searching on "Barbara Streisand House".

Despite her efforts to remove the photos, a new Internet sensation was created, costing her well over $150,000 in legal fees when she lost the case.

Blogger Mike Masnick coined the term the "Streisand Effect" for events where attempts to remove content from the Internet cause it to spread broadly instead. A popular blog of the same name now chronicles other's efforts to muffle the power of the Internet.

Some companies are doomed to repeat the lessons of history.

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