The Streisand effect: there is no more effective way to get people talking about something than to ban it

The Streisand effect: there is no more effective way to get people talking about something than to ban it

On the subject of censorship I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, censorship seems abominable to me (even the censorship of content that borders on insult, blasphemy or apology for terrorism). Quite simply, I believe that the most effective way to eliminate certain ideas is to convince, not to prohibit .

On the other hand, censorship carries with it a secondary effect that seems to me typical of poetic justice: the more a group of people tries to prevent people from discussing a subject, the greater the probability that that subject will emerge . In fact, many old dogmas began to crumble precisely because of the fervor of their apologists to protect them from criticism and dissent.

The morbid of the forbidden

Because people want to read the books contained in the Index of Forbidden Books. And if he cannot, then he will argue about the advisability of banning certain books. In the long run, then, the dogma will be infiltrated with doubts and questions.

This is what is popularly called the Streisand effect . The first case of the Streisand effect is probably found in 356 BC. C., when the young Greek Eróstrato set fire to the temple of Artemis in Ephesus. After being executed for such an act, the Ephesian authorities wanted to erase the case from history, to the point that they even prohibited mention of the name of Eróstrato . It is clear that the strict orders of the authorities in Ephesus have not worked, and here is this article to prove it.

But if we are to fully understand the Streisand effect, we must explain what it owes its name to, and how today it would be even more counterproductive to follow the logic of the Ephesian authorities.

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Ban on the internet

The concept of the Streisand effect was coined by Mike Masnick , a popular American tech blogger, to describe Barbara Streisand’s furious attempts to remove photos of her Malibu home posted on the Internet.

Apparently these photos, taken by a professional photographer, documented the erosion of the coast, within the framework of the California Coastal Records Project. The photos did not cause much impact … until Streisand filed a lawsuit for fifty million euros. Thousands of bloggers, out of solidarity, posted the photos.

Streisand had declared war on popular sentiment and the Internet in general, and the issue he wanted to hide became one of the most controversial of the moment. Probably, if Streisand hadn’t done anything, the slip-up would have happened without pain or glory. Internet expert Evgeny Morozov explains it like this in The Disappointment of the Internet :

When the costs of trafficking information, whether financial or reputational, are too high, there is little opportunity to spread it, and the Streisand effect cannot possibly undermine the flow of official information. But when almost everyone has access to cheap means of self-publishing, as well as of concealing identity, the Streisand effect becomes a real threat.

Naturally, the Streisand effect is powerful against prohibitions, but it is even more powerful against indirect censorship : I do not like that you write about this, what you have written offends me and therefore you must withdraw it, what you write hurts a lot of people, I am from the X association and you have ridiculed the X association, you should write about other things because you seem obsessed, and a long etcetera that is easily resolved with: go read other things that you like and / or things are not immoral or Inadequate because they bother you, because your threshold of annoyance does not define morality, but rather how thin your skin is and how difficult it is to live with you.