The Streisand Effect and Censorship Backfire

Sue Curry Jansen, Brian Martin


Barbra Streisand’s attempt to restrict online views of her residence on a public website had the paradoxical effect of leading to many more views than if she had done nothing. Subsequently, attempts at censorship that end up being counterproductive have been dubbed the “Streisand effect.” To better understand the dynamics of the Streisand effect, we examine five tactics used by censors to reduce outrage from their actions: (1) hiding the existence of censorship; (2) devaluing targets of censorship; (3) reinterpreting actions by lying, minimizing consequences, blaming others, and using benign framing; (4) using official channels to give an appearance of justice; and (5) intimidating opponents. Within this framework, the Streisand effect can be understood as a special outcome of censorship attempts, one in which the methods used to reduce outrage did not succeed.


Streisand effect, censorship, backfire, tactics, outrage

Full Text: