Wednesday, April 9, 2014

When secrecy backfires

Barbra Streisand's palatial estate
USAID tried to keep its ZunZuneo project secret. That made the revelations about the project much more explosive. And now more people know about ZunZuneo than ever.
This is known as the Streisand effect. Wikipedia calls it:
The phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.
Mike Masnick of Techdirt came up with the term, named for singer Barbra Streisand after she tried to block publication of aerial photos of her Malibu estate in 2003.

Streisand had sued photographer Kenneth Adelman and Pictopia.com for invasion of privacy after her mansion appeared in an online collection of 12,000 coastline photos.
Before Streisand's $50 million lawsuit, the photo of her home had been downloaded just six times, according to Wikipedia. During the following month, more than 420,000 people visited the website containing the photo. What Streisand hoped to keep secret became common knowledge.
It's been much the same for ZunZuneo, now known around the world.

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