Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Happy 20th Anniversary to The Streisand Effect!

Happy 20th Anniversary to The Streisand Effect, the phenomenon named after everyone's favorite entertainer Barbra Streisand, and created by her own hubris.

So what the heck is the Effect? Welp, back in 2003, the California Coastal Records Project rented a plane and flew along the entire coastline of the state, snapping aerial photos once a second or so in an effort to study erosion. 

When they were finished they put all 12,000 photos online, so that anyone without a life, er, I mean anyone with lots of free time could scroll through them. It turned out that Photo #3850 just happened to contain an innocuous view of Barbra Streisand's palatial estate.

Somehow Babs found out about this and flipped a table, claiming the photo severely violated her privacy or some crap. In fact she was so outraged by this grave injustice that she  threatened to sue the Project unless they removed the photo. Quite rightly they refused, so she took 'em to court. 

The judge in the case took one look at the photo in question and decreed that at no time did anyone trespass on her property or intrude on her privacy, and as such no laws had been broken. He then summarily ruled against her and told her to get the hell out of his courtroom. As icing on this particularly satisfying cake, the judge ordered her to pay a whopping $177,000 in court costs for wasting everyone's time! HA-ha!

People online then got wind of the case and immediately sprang into action. Prior to Bab's histrionics, Photo #3850 had been downloaded a grand total of six times— and two of those instances were by her lawyers! After she made such a stink about it, the pic was downloaded a whopping 420,000 times in the next month alone (and even more since).

Facebook wasn't around back then, but MySpace was, and people began posting it there. They also plastered it on blogs, emailed it back and forth and even set up dedicated websites featuring the photo— all just to spite her. Best of all, there wasn't a bloody thing she could do about it!

I can just imagine her storming around her mansion after that, throwing dishes against the walls and smashing priceless vases on the floor. No wonder her stepson grew up to be Thanos!

So that's the Streisand Effect in a nutshell. It's when one loudly complains about a trivial matter, thereby drawing far more attention to it than if they'd kept quiet. If Babs had simply ignored the online photo of her mansion, NO ONE would have ever been aware of it. She made the entire situation infinitely worse, and had no one to blame for it but herself.

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