In 2003, a photographer documenting coastal erosion in California for a state program snapped a picture of Barbara Streisand’s house. The image was then displayed, along with 12,000 other photographs of coastline and the occasional house, on that agency’s website. The singer sued the photographer, Kenneth Adelman, and the program, the California Coastal Records Project, to get the picture removed. The resulting court case drew public attention, increasing the number of visits to the agency’s website and ensuring the outcome Streisand least wanted became real. Mike Masnick appears to have coined the term Streisand Effect for situations in which, as he himself puts it, attempting to “repress something they don’t like online is likely to make it so that something that most people would never, ever see…is now seen by many more people?”
I feel like this applies at least in part to the moves being made by Barça concerning the Cadena COPE doping “scandal”. What scandal was it before Barça’s board freaked out and began issuing directives and demands for apologies all over the place. When was the last time any of us actually believed the Spanish sports media about anything, much less something that’s so obviously under the jurisdiction of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)? But now the club is releasing official complaints and keeping things alive by demanding satisfaction of sorts. I can just imagine Rosell walking into the Cadena COPE headquarters and slapping someone with a glove.
And that, of course, just draws more attention to the whole thing, which gets Cadena COPE exactly what they wanted (clicks) while getting Barça exactly what they’re trying to avoid (the suspicion of having doped). Fighting meaningless battles like these causes the WADA to take a second look, to investigate, to try to “clear the air” which wouldn’t have needed clearing if you’d only kept your mouth shut or rolled your eyes silently. Instead, you make a big fuss and suddenly there are anti-doping tests up the wazoo, everyone’s asking themselves if you really aren’t doping, and bored bloggers write pieces about how dumb you are.
Don’t think for a moment that I believe in any of the doping accusations. They’re as baseless as anything else and I don’t particularly care who said them or why. If Barça had stayed silent on this issue, it would have gone away. And if it hadn’t, if it had picked up steam, then they could have reacted with official communiques and sent the army of lawyers into battle. BFB’s legal counsel, Luke, would gladly have given up his day job (losing to me in Words with Friends) to join that particular crusade, but instead our Richard the Lionhearted has led us directly into fire without bothering to think about the possible consequences.
So yeah, here’s me confirming that the Streisand Effect is happening: respond vociferously to the nonsense before its meaningful and the nonsense will grow appendages and beat you senseless. And that doesn’t excuse the idiots who make up these things, but it does suggest that the general public should have the wherewithal to stop reading or listening to outlets that make things up, don’t source, and don’t contribute to the general discussion about the particular topic under consideration.
Now go read this.