Wick Communications

Send in the clowns

In First Amendment on 4 Sep 2015 at 8:04 am
California Coastal Records Project

California Coastal Records Project

Ever heard of the Streisand Effect?

I had, but confess I forgot all about it until an attorney named David Groner attempted to prevent Wick’s Daily Iberian from publishing an online comment that questioned his integrity.

You can read about that case elsewhere on The Kicker. But I also wanted to make mention of something Groner said to Washington Post columnist Eugene Volokh. Volokh is an expert in free speech protections and an instructor at UCLA.

When asked about seeking an injunction against the Daily Iberian to prevent what appeared to be protected speech, Groner told Volokh, in part:

“The end result is classic Streisand effect. I made it worse by trying to correct it.”

Babs? How did she get in this story? …

The Streisand Effect refers to the Barbra Streisand’s 2003 attempt to suppress photos taken from the air of her Malibu, Calif., home. More to the point, it gives a name to the phenomenon that sometimes occurs when you try to hide something only to bring more attention to yourself.

Streisand sought to suppress the photo from a set of 12,000 aerial shots of the California coastline that were taken as part of an effort to highlight erosion in the state. Prior to her $50 million suit over the photo, only six people had downloaded the picture, according to Wikipedia. Afterward, 420,000 people downloaded it just to see what she was trying to hide.

I see this at work on a daily basis. For instance, sometimes I hear from someone who wants a long-forgotten story purged from our website. I often tell these complainers that I would be happy to update the story with new facts. (Say the caller complains that a felony arrest became a misdemeanor after a probationary period.) Usually, they opt not to risk any new exposure.

And now you know…


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