In 2003, Barbra Streisand sued a photographer taking pictures for an endeavor called the California Coastal Records project. Meant to document the erosion of the state’s beaches, the CCRP took one photo approximately every 500 feet all up and down California’s coast.
One of those pictures showed a particularly ritzy part of the Malibu coast, which happened to house Streisand’s mansion. The picture had been downloaded six times before Streisand’s suit, which alleged that the CCRP had violated her privacy, demanded the image be suppressed. The publicity brought by the suit brought a massive spotlight to the image, and it was downloaded nearly half-a-million times over the next month. In attempting to erase the image, Streisand brought it far more attention than it ever would have had otherwise.
This “Streisand Effect” is now cited whenever an attempt to stamp out information only makes that information more available.
Over the weekend, President Trump employed a version of the Streisand Effect to bring a massive spotlight to something that, before, had almost totally faded away from the public eye: NFL players taking a knee during the singing of the National Anthem.