A Cheerleader, an Arrest, a Lawsuit, and Barbara Streisand

In the online world, there’s a phenomenon known as the Streisand effect. It has nothing to do with her voice, lovely as it is. Wikipedia said it best:

It is 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. It is an example of psychological reactance, wherein once people are aware something is being kept from them, their motivation to access and spread the information is increased.

Here’s what happened.

For the California Coastal Records Project, Kenneth Adelman, a photographer, took pictures of beachfront property to document coastal erosion. There were ~12,000 California coastline photos. The Project was intended to influence policy makers. Adelman included an aerial photograph of Barbara Streisand’s mansion. Streisand filed a lawsuit for violation of privacy. The $50M lawsuit was intended to get the picture removed. Prior to the lawsuit, the picture of her mansion had been downloaded six times (two of those times by Streisand’s attorneys).

Streisand did not prevail.

As a result of the lawsuit, public knowledge of the picture exploded. The following month (in 2003), the photo was downloaded over 420,000 times.

Trying to render undiscoverable what was beforehand almost unknown had the paradoxical effect of making the problem worse – by orders of magnitude.

The Streisand Effect. Which brings me to Megan Welter.

Welter was an Iraq war veteran. She was also a cheerleader for the Arizona Cardinals. An All-American story. The media ate it up.

Until 2013.

Welter allegedly got into a fight with her boyfriend. She called 911 and reported him for domestic violence. She reported he smashed [her] head into the tile” and put her in a “choke hold with his legs.”

When the police arrived, her boyfriend showed video of the fight verifying that Welter was the aggressor. She was arrested and charged with assault. [Not sure how he was able to video the entire ruckus, but it was his get-out-of-jail free card.]

This arrest came days after a recent PR blitz pushing her narrative onto various TV and news outlets. That feel-good story turned negative. Stories of the arrest briefly dominated the media.

Last year, Welter hired a law firm to fix her reputation.

They filed a defamation lawsuit against many defendants, one of whom was her now ex-boyfriend. They asked for an injunction:

According to the order, [her ex-boyfriend] would “immediately remove from all websites, search engines, forums, blogs, lists, social media sites, and/or other forums of mass communication” any “negative statements” about Welter, including the 98 links in her exhibit. He also agreed to request removal of the URLs from search engines including Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Because the ex-boyfriend did not fight the injunction, a judge signed it. And the law firm intended to enforce the injunction against various blogs and news outlets.

Now, free speech advocates have filed motions to quash the injunction. More importantly, the cat is out of the bag. What was likely a minor reputational challenge in 2013 is not a major news story dominating search for all things “Welter.”

The lawyer working to reverse the ruling stated:

that he wants to dissuade people from hiring unscrupulous reputation management services or law firms like [this one], which “promise easy fixes to reputation cleanup.”

The take home message:

Before pulling the trigger and flinging a lawsuit because of someone’s words, pause, and take a deep breath, and put on a Barbara Streisand CD. Most of the time, such litigation will convert a minor problem into a major problem. The lawsuit will be time consuming, expensive, and capricious.

There are better ways to manage online headaches.

What do you think?

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By | 2017-07-14T11:08:39+00:00 July 6th, 2017|Compliance, Practice management|3 Comments

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3 Comments

  1. Stacy Childs July 7, 2017 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    I loved the Streisand Effect article

  2. Michael M. Rosenblatt, DPM July 8, 2017 at 10:23 am - Reply

    There is more going on here than simply a “domestic attack.” Media and feminists have passed statistics that men are responsible for virtually all domestic attacks against women and a highly publicized version of feminism has concluded that men have to control their violent tendencies toward women. This polemic has become an accepted basic standard of the feminist doctrine in the West. The problem is that it is not true. In this study by CDC “More men are victims of domestic violence than females.”. http://www.saveservices.org/2012/02/cdc-study-more-men-than-women-victims-of-partner-abuse/

    Recently a documentary movie by Cassie Jaye called the “Red Pill” has documented the MRA (Men’s Rights movement) in detail. Readers of Medical Justice should see this movie. Jaye came under severe attack from (some) feminists for the film, who actually attempted to have it blocked from viewing in public theaters. It is now widely available on-line, but you might have to have a cable subscription to see the firm in its entirety. It is very well balanced and (in my opinion) fair to both sides. Jaye herself has totally retracted her own definition of herself as a feminist. She describes it as a “difficult journey.”

    This is also important for ER physicians who have been widely trained that it is mostly men who are perpetrators of domestic violence. Feminists have indoctrinated healthcare providers to look at men as the guilty party in virtually all domestic violence situations. If you as an emergency healthcare provider subscribe to this you may be the unwitting perpetrator of great injustice…and worse yet…perpetuate a bad situation for male victims. It is completely impossible for men to defend themselves in a domestic violence situation, say from an intoxicated female partner. Police will automatically assume he is at fault.

    Much of the above “Streisand” effect is playing out in this greater-societal realm. The Men’s Rights movement has pointed out some very important problems in our societies’ treatment of men and boys. It is no secret to you that men and boys are “falling behind” in our society. A recent part of that movement is the MGTOW (Men going their own way). These are men who by choice avoid both marriage and in many cases females altogether. Although some MGTOW people have definite anger problems concerning females, the movement itself is directing men and boys to simply avoid females and marriage as much as they can in all parts of their lives.

    As far as you are concerned, you will continue to see fewer men applying or being accepted to medical/dental/podiatric colleges. It takes an enormous amount of drive and effort to get to the point of making that application. Most under-grad colleges are feminized and treat men as an enemy unless they are like women. While this is more prevalent in “general studies’ curricula” these courses must still be taken by men in undergrad in order to get their degrees. The professors there will widely attack men as a vicious patriarchy and expand that attack against any form of political conservatism or religious belief. This is what students now hear in most colleges.

    I predict that this post will bring on some discussion. I’m sure that some will disagree with me totally. But even if you do disagree, I’d respectfully suggest you watch “The Red Pill.” You can also learn more on YouTube if you are curious. I bring this up because this entire issue is a back-drop of the article by Medical Justice.

    Michael M. Rosenblatt, DPM

  3. Anon July 8, 2017 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    If Babs got the nose job she’s always wanted, she would have fit into a more modest dwelling and drawn less attention to her “mansion”. The Streisand Effect should just be called GoogleMapsEffect – there is zero privacy anywhere outdoors. That said, there is zero privacy if you’re posting on the internet – all posts should be considered permanent and irremovable. Hence my pseudonym! Thank you.

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