Streisand Effect

What Does Streisand Effect Mean?

The Streisand Effect refers to a situation where information becomes more public, despite – and even as a result of – attempts to hide or censor it. Thanks to the easy access to information provided by today’s high-tech systems, concealing information has become more difficult. Additionally, the global interconnectedness provided by networks and the Internet has made it possible to spread information more widely and quickly than ever.


All sorts of information are vulnerable to the Streisand Effect. This includes technical items like access keys, visual images, audio and video. In some cases, data is sensitive because of potentially linked criminal charges or scandal.

Techopedia Explains Streisand Effect

The Streisand Effect is named for American actress and entertainer Barbra Streisand. Experts attribute the origin of the term to Streisand’s 2003 efforts to hide information about her home in Malibu, California, which included a lawsuit against the California Coastal Records Project, a grassroots project offering views of the entire California Pacific coastline. Images of the home and other information generated more publicity as a result of Streisand’s attempts to hide them.

In many cases, if a specific piece of information cannot be effectively erased from IP networks and social platforms, it has the potential to go viral on the Internet. There also is often an element of retribution in these situations; individuals who feel that censored or hidden information should be freely available may work to quickly disseminate that information to a wider digital audience. Popular examples of the Streisand Effect involve viral video and other attempts to make sensitive data entertaining to enable online replication.

Past examples of the Streisand Effect should be instructive to governments, private businesses or any other group or agency attempting to censor or block data access. The rule here is that without complete control of a piece of data, efforts to hide it will often result in much more publicity than if left unconcealed.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…