Something horribly embarrassing or personal about you has been released — anything from a sex tape, to an unflattering photograph, to the nickname you had when you were younger — and you want to keep it out of the public eye. So you do whatever it takes to make it go away: lawsuits, cease-and-desist orders, DMCA takedowns, whatever you have at hand. But it backfires: the efforts to censor the information become public, and people who would otherwise be uninterested are now dying to know what all the commotion is about. Whatever you were trying to remove from the Internet gets mirrored and copied to hundreds of other sites; the sex tape goes viral; the childhood nickname becomes national talk show fodder; the unflattering picture ends up in the newspaper. In other words, your fears that everyone would see the dirt on you is the very thing that caused everyone to look at it, and the harder you try to fight it, the more popular it becomes — and you learned the hard way that you probably should've ignored it and acted like it was no big deal.
Blogger Mike Masnick of Techdirt coined the phrase back in 2003 when American singer Barbra Streisand tried to suppress a photograph of her house, incidentally taken for a geological study on California's coastline, by unsuccessfully attempting to sue the photographer and force him to take the image off of his website. The public at large found out about this photo specifically because Streisand filed the lawsuit, leading to the photo becoming far more well-known than if she had done nothing at all, as the house was one of many in the study and in no way labelled as hers. Said image is the one at the top of this page.
This trope existed before the Internet was even a gleam in DARPA's eye, but since the spread of information is much faster, easier, and more difficult to prevent across the Internet than through other means, it is far more widespread and effective now.
Psychologists have done studies and found that the subjects' desire for any kind of material increased when they were told that it was censored — the old Forbidden Fruit principle in action. Perhaps any authority considering the use of censorship should worry that this move might be counterproductive if it just gets people interested in the censored material. "Banned in Boston" was once a badge of dubious honor for books, much like R-ratings on movies are for kids.
There's a general principle here that almost everyone learns back in childhood: when someone looks like they're hiding something, they probably are, and it's probably something interesting. The only way to really keep something hidden is to have nobody look for it in the first place. Of course, acting too casually often sparks the same reaction.
Not to be confused with No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, which is very similar, but occurs when Moral Guardians attack something and draw more attention to it. This is basically that but without the Moral Guardians.
A form of Revealing Cover-Up; also a specific form of Hoist by His Own Petard. Usually a Hydra Problem as well. Sometimes related to Clumsy Copyright Censorship and, more rarely, Fanwork Ban. Will lead to an Open Secret. See also Internet Counterattack. Compare to Thought-Aversion Failure (telling someone to not think about something will lead to them thinking about it). Basically opposite to Forced Meme, where the individual or company tries to make something as popular as possible and fails in much the same way for much the same reasons. People who avert this Just Ignore It.
This page alone is a meta-example since its entire purpose is to catalog the instances of the effect.
- When Harry and Hermione ask the Weasley twins to advertise their book on tantric (sexual) rituals in Harry Potter and the Sword of Gryffindor, the twins deliberately invoke this by decrying it as completely shameless and obscene under a pseudonym in the Daily Prophet. The result is a line around the block to purchase this new book and see what it's about.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Princest Is Wincest, It Said, Princess Celestia relates a story of this happening to her to Princess Luna (her sister). Centuries ago, she discovered an erotic novel about herself being taken prisoner by evil tyrant King Sombra and forced into a romanticized, sexually abusive relationship (in a possible Shout-Out to The Sheik). Celestia, embarrassed by this, proceeded to pass a series of laws banning any unauthorized use of her image. As a result, sales of the novel went up 300% in a single week, with several imitators being published to meet the demand. Celestia eventually realized the laws weren't working and repealed them, after an entire art gallery devoted to erotic paintings of an "unnamed" white alicorn was held.
- In Clear and Present Danger, faced with a discovery that a friend of the President was involved with the Escobedo drug cartel, the White House wants to hush it up and downplay their relationship. Jack Ryan suggests that they instead play up the relationship, "we were lifelong friends", which nullifies the potential scandal rather than amplifying it by looking like a Revealing Cover Up.
- The Harder They Come: When Ivan, an unknown in the music industry, goes on the run from the police after shooting three officers, his song skyrockets in popularity. When the police tell his producer they're going to ban the song for glorifying criminality, the producer warns them that banning it will generate even more public interest.
- In Untraceable, a killer sets up his victims to be tortured to death in front of a livestreaming camera; the more people watch, the quicker the victim dies. Despite warnings from a Genre Savvy cybercrime special agent, the FBI crime director denounces the website and urges people to avoid it, which causes the site's traffic to explode.
- On a lighter note, when the protagonists in The Wizard of Oz heard The Great Oz proclaim, "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain", they really paid attention, and the jig was up.
- Isaac Asimov's "Galley Slave": In-Universe, when EZ-27 attempts to explain why it had rewritten portions of Social Tensions Involved in Space-Flight and Their Resolution, Professor Ninheimer (the author) starts yelling at it to stop talking, inadvertently revealing that he had given it instructions to hide crucial information.
- The children's novel, Ban This Book!, is all about a girl trying to check her favourite book out from the library, only to find a parent had asked for it to be banned, along with several others. The girl and her friends eventually create a little banned book library out of her locker, only stocking the books the parent had asked to ban and resulting in most of the school trying to get their hands on the books to see what all the fuss is about.
- In the novel Cat's Cradle, the entire religion of Bokononism is outlawed in The Republic of San Lorenzo, and its practice is punishable by death. Naturally, every single citizen, including the President who issued the law, is a devout follower. This is actually by arrangement, and part of the point of Bokononism: to create an entertaining drama (the tyrant in the city and the mad prophet in the jungle) that engages the people and helps distract them from how poor and miserable their lives are.
- In Fifth Business, the Cool Old Guy priest Father Blazon amuses himself in his old age by acquiring and reading books that the Church had banned, to the consternation of his nurses.
- In one story of Frog and Toad, the titular duo are going for a swim, with the latter wearing an Old-Timey Bathing Suit that he's embarrassed to be seen in because he thinks he looks funny in it. Then a turtle arrives at the pond and Toad asks Frog to shoo it away. When Frog attempts to do this and explains why, not only does the turtle decide to stick around with renewed interest, but all the other animals overhear the conversation and come down to the pond to see the funny-looking bathing suit Toad is wearing.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry is being defamed by both the Wizard government and its only major newspaper, so he tries to set the record straight by giving an interview in The Quibbler, a tabloid published by the highly eccentric Lovegood family. Umbridge is furious and immediately passes a rule that anyone found with The Quibbler will be expelled from Hogwarts. Hermione is delighted, explicitly pointing out that this guarantees everyone will find a way to read it. Sure enough, by the end of the day everyone is talking about the interview even though Umbridge can't actually catch anyone with a copy.
- In Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn, Vin is surprised to learn that the Ministry doesn't ban books criticizing the Lord Ruler. To which Kelsier explains to her:
Banning books is tricky business, Vin - the more stink the Ministry makes about a text, the more attention it will draw, and the more people will be tempted to read it. False Dawn is a stuffy volume, and by not forbidding it, the Ministry doomed it to obscurity.
- Played with in A Song of Ice and Fire.
- When Stannis begins spreading rumors regarding the incestuous relationship between Cersei and Jamie, Cersei wants them crushed. When asked what he would do, Tyrion's response was "Nothing. If we leave it alone, everyone will forget the instant some other scandal comes out. If we crush it, it will only spread and convince people that it's true." Littlefinger adds a masterful variation; not only will they ignore it, but they'll spread equally lurid (although false) rumors about Stannis himself to impale Stannis on the same dilemma. Although their counter-rumor has had little effect in the following books and that incest rumor has become an Open Secret by the time of the fifth book (where Cersei is labelled brotherfucker in her Walk of Shame after publicly admitting to adultery, which, needless to say, gives weight to the rumors).
- Mushroom, once the Fool of the Targaryen court back in the days of the civil war called the Dance of the Dragons, wrote a lurid and outright libellous set of "chronicles" making the entire family of that time look awful after most of them had killed each other and the remaining ones in a too-precarious position to just kill him over it. Subsequent Targaryen kings repeatedly tried to ban it and destroy all the copies. It can be found everywhere in the Kingdom (and in a lot of places beyond) by the start of the series, both in physical hardcopy and in still quite popular songs based on the rudest bits, strangely enough. Oops.
- Star Trek: Federation: Someone hacks a secure Starfleet database looking for information on the Warp Bomb, a long discreditednote idea for weaponizing Warp Drive. This causes Starfleet Security to clamp down on any information pertaining to the Warp Bomb and it becomes a vicious cycle where the persistence of the hacker leads Starfleet to reevaluate whether there might be something to this Warp Bomb business, and the increasingly stringent security confirms the hacker's belief in the bomb as both sides continue to escalate without apparent end.
- In the second season finale of Arrested Development, Maeby is tasked with producing an American remake of a French film about cousins who are in love with each other (mirroring George-Michael's feelings for her). Ann organizes a protest which ends up making the film a hit.
- In the Better Call Saul episode "Hero", after Jimmy McGill uses his billboard stunt to gain publicity. The stunt involves setting up a billboard that ripped off Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill's logo, then Jimmy getting a cease-and-desist order, then arranging for a freelance media team to record him when the guy taking down the billboard "accidentally" falls, prompting Jimmy to go up and save him. The HHM team see through the ruse when watching Jimmy on the afternoon news, but decide not to pursue further action against Jimmy since doing so would be this.
- In Evil, Kristen and the gang discover that an influencer's seemingly innocuous makeup video actually includes a hidden message urging teenagers to kill themselves. Confronted with this, the influencer pulls the video and tells her millions of followers to definitely not share the video with anyone—thus practically guaranteeing it will be everywhere.
- In the Father Ted episode "The Passion of St. Tibulus", the eponymous film, condemned by the Pope as "blasphemous" and banned everywhere else, is being shown on Craggy Island because of an unknown loophole. Bishop Brennan orders Ted and Dougal to picket the cinema showing the film. The protest has the effect of making the film (which is in French and undubbed) the most popular in the history of Craggy Island.
Bishop Brennan: People are coming all the way from GDANSK! to see the film.
- What makes this example particularly amusing is that Ted and Dougal's protest is for the most part utterly perfunctory and reluctant, and it's clear that neither of them actually care about the film (when they actually sit down and watch it they're more baffled than anything else). The very act of two bored priests standing in front of a cinema hours before it actually opens somehow inspires the entire world to see the film.
- A later episode of M*A*S*H had the gang trying to get a copy of the film The Moon is Blue because it had been Banned in Boston. Charles, a Boston native, cautions that Boston would have banned Pinocchio, but Hawkeye and BJ pay him no heed, thinking it must be steamy. The capper to all the troubles they had obtaining it was them watching it and finding it terribly inoffensive.
BJ: There was more filth in this morning's breakfast!
- Discussed in The West Wing; in one episode, a photographer Sam once hired then fired has written a libelous tell-all book about the White House full of inaccurate but potentially scandalous and embarrassing half-truths and fabrications. After Sam spends the episode with a bee in his bonnet trying to do everything he can to get the book squashed and the White House to condemn every single falsehood within it, C.J and Toby sit him down and explain to him that making a huge deal out of it and using the full voice of the White House to condemn the photographer is just going to give him a bigger platform, whereas if they do nothing beyond curtly acknowledging his existence and a simple shrug of disinterest, they'll make it clear how insignificant he really is and his book will disappear before long.
- In The X-Files, this the initial reason the Conspiracy doesn't just kill Mulder and Scully, based on the advice of the Cigarette-Smoking Man. As he claimed, currently Mulder was just some eccentric FBI agent rambling about conspiracies, but if he was murdered, then the conspiracy theories would be given credibility. As CSM tells one of the Syndicate members, "kill Mulder and you turn one man's religion into a crusade".
- Invoked in Blindspot when FBI A/D Mayfair shoots down Carter's insistence on having Jane killed by pointing out that her tattoos had already been scanned, so the evidence was already preserved and killing her would just cause people to wonder what information in them was worth killing her over.
- Invoked in Babylon 5 when Captain Sheridan has Ivanova announce on her Voice of the Resistance TV show that absolutely nothing of note has happened in a particular sector of space (where he's just had a formation of White Stars blast some random asteroids). This is part of a Genghis Gambit he's playing on the League of Non-Aligned Worlds to get them to accept, nay, demand the Rangers serve as a peacekeeping force: as Sheridan well knows, Suspiciously Specific Denials are a good way to get people to wonder why you're denying it.
- The Victorious episode "Bad Roommate" has Jade discovering an awkward satellite photo of her online and asks the guys not to tell anyone it exists. The next day, Jade discovers that the whole school now knows about it thanks to Cat telling people where not to look.
Jade: What do you mean you told people not to look?
Cat: I tweeted it on TheSlap.
Jade: What did you tweet?
Cat: I wrote... "Please do not go on PearMaps and look up Hollywood Arts. If you do, do not zoom in on Jade. P.S. She's not picking her nose". I made it super clear.
- Saturday Night Live: A Season 46 installment of Weekend Update had Colin Jost remark on Disney+'s decision to place a Content Warning before episodes of The Muppet Show regarding the presence of "offensive content." Jost says that the presence of offensive content in an episode of The Muppet Show only makes him more interested in the contents of the episode. "What, does Gonzo finally have sex with the chicken?"note
- The post-apocalyptic game Paranoia takes place in a city called Alpha Complex ruled by an all-powerful, tyrannical Computer. The Computer uses Communists as its go-to scapegoat, blaming them for a nuclear war. There was no war, Communism died out long before the apocalypse, and the Computer only blames Communism because of old civil-defense files left over from the 1950s. There is, however, a brand-new sect of Communists in Alpha Complex a lot of citizens figure that, if the Computer is evil and the Computer hates Communists, then Communists have to be the good guys. Most records of actual Communism didn't survive, though, so they gladly follow the teachings of Groucho Marx and John Lennon.
- In Persona 5, the first boss, Shadow Kamoshida, heals himself by eating out of a giant trophy after the party inflicts significant damage on him, thereby forcing you to destroy the trophy in order to continue the battle. When the party damages the trophy, Kamoshida demands that they stop attacking it, thus causing Morgana to lampshade this trope.
Morgana: When someone tells us not to do something, it makes us want to do it even more!
- Worm, on the Parahumans Online forum where people are noticing that the word "Cauldron" is hidden unless censored, such as with an asterisk.
- In Look to the West Part #266, a New Spanish chef creates a version of boeuf bourguignon for the Paris WorldFest that uses his native wine rather than burgundy. The protests outside the pavilion by French chefs are considered to have attracted attention to an event that was pretty close to being called off for rain.
- In The Simpsons, when Homer and others are about to tour the Duff Brewery:
Tour Guide: Welcome to the Duff Brewery. Well, I'm sure that all of you have heard the rumors that a batch of Duff was contaminated with strychnine.
Tourists: [mumbling among themselves] No. Strychnine? That's news to me.
Guide: Are you sure? Everyone's talking about it; it was even on CNN last night.
Tourists: [mumbling among themselves] CNN? Whoa.
Guide: Well, it's not true.
- South Park:
- The episode "Cartmanland", where Eric Cartman buys an amusement park for the sole purpose of keeping people out and having it all to himself. He might have gotten away with it if he hadn't aired commercials extolling the park and then stating no one could come. The commercials drew people's attention to the park, and rising expenses, like security to keep them out, forced him to have to let more and more people in, turning the park from a financial failure into a success. Not that Cartman cared.
- In "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs", the kids become enthusiastic about having to read The Catcher in the Rye after finding out it was banned in some schools and supposedly inspired people to kill celebrities. When they actually read the book, however, they're annoyed that it's a normal novel with the occasional curse word.
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Squid on Strike", Squidward's protests against the Krusty Krab only brought more publicity and so more customers to the Krusty Krab. He actually helped drum up business by going on strike, and Mr. Krabs thanks him for it:
Squidward: Nobody gives a care about the fate of labor as long as they get their instant gratification.
Real life examples:
The photo in question was taken by Kenneth Adelman, as part of the California Coastal Records Project, a government-commissioned photographic study of the entire coastline of the state of California that was explicitly for geological study. Helicopter photos were taken of the coast, with one photo captured every 500 feet. At the time, with Google Earth still in its infancy as a private subscription service, the record was a rather unique collection of images.
The next part is where Streisand took issue.
Adelman took more than twelve thousand photos for the geological study. One of these twelve thousand photos just so happened to capture Barbra Streisand's house, since it overlooked the California coastline. The picture wasn't identified as Streisand's house in any form, but Streisand sued Adelman anyway for violation of privacy. At this point, the Internet imp of the perverse was roused, and now everyone wanted to see the photo that Streisand didn't want them to see. After all, if Streisand lawyered up because of an image, that image must be something worth suing over, right? But when it was revealed that the offending photo was just an innocuous picture of her house — far from anything that could be called scandalous — news of the photo's existence spread far and wide, with others mirroring it onto multiple websites as a Take That! towards Streisand.note
The way that Streisand shot herself in the foot cannot be overstated enough. The study was a mundane project that was only of interest to geologists, who didn't know (and didn't care) who owned the houses in the pictures they were studying, as it wasn't important to their findings. Adelman had not identified the house in the photo as Streisand's — in fact, he hadn't identified anyone's houses in the thousands of pictures he took, since he didn't know who the houses belonged to, either. The only way the public at large found out that the house in the photo was Streisand's was the lawsuit Streisand herself had filed that was specifically designed to prevent that information from getting out. Streisand making a big fuss over an otherwise utterly inoffensive photograph of her house being in an utterly mundane scientific study made it so that the greater public now knew where she lived, what her house looked like, and that she was acting like a foolish Prima Donna about the whole situation.
Basically, had Streisand kept quiet about the photo of her house, nobody would've ever known about it. But specifically because she didn't, the information about her house spread further than it ever would have if she'd done nothing at all.
Ultimately, Streisand lost her lawsuit against Adelman, and was required to pay the legal fees for both sides, which totaled over $150,000. The website detailing all of the pictures from the coastal study is still up, with Image 3850 still there, now identified as Streisand's house. The website also has an archive of the legal proceedings surrounding the offending photo, links to news stories and political cartoons mocking Streisand's complaint as a Frivolous Lawsuit, and a note essentially telling Streisand to mind her own business.
- iPood. Not quite a Flame War fuel, but still got 753,000 results on Google (as of October 2011).
- P.T. Barnum was a master of this, along with other publicity stunts. While traveling with his circus, he would often have a shill sue him or complain about him to the local paper, stirring up interest. The most famous example would probably be him hiring a man to sue him with the claim that the bearded lady was actually a man. The judge recognized it as a ploy and dismissed it, but not before thousands read about the case and flocked to his show.
- In response to an attack ad juxtaposing Donald Trump's dismissive statements during the early stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic with the rising death toll, the Trump campaign denounced the ad as "misleading" and sued a Wisconsin TV station for running it. This resulted in increased attention to the ad. For example, TV host Joe Scarborough played the ad, declared that he couldn't figure out how it was "misleading", played it again, made a show of still not finding anything "misleading", and played it a third time. A similar case involved "Mourning in America", an attack ad created by The Lincoln Project (a PAC founded by a number of prominent Republicans opposed to Trump's re-election) that likely would have gained little attention had the ad and its creators not been explicitly called out by Trump on Twitter. The result was the ad gaining millions of online views, and The Lincoln Project itself earning $1 million in fundraising.
- The manga Act-age succumbed to Demand Overload after it was cancelled by the manga's writer's arrest for sexual misconduct with middle school girls and the writing was on the wall that Shueisha would condemn it to Keep Circulating the Tapes purgatory and unperson it in response within the month.
- Funimation acquired the license to Interspecies Reviewers, only to quickly drop the series after three episodes. The company officially stated this was because the series fell outside their standards,note and that it got so explicit that it was fruitless to try and censor it without it becoming unwatchable. This, combined with the myriad of controversies the company has endured since the mid-2010s, people pointing out that Funimation have licensed similarly raunchy anime in the past,note and Amazon, Tokyo MX and SUN TV later dropping it, has only served as a huge free advertisement for the series.
- A Silent Voice is a work of fiction about the hardships of living in Japan as a deaf person, namely that they're encouraged to be invisible and stay out of public society, and this is done through relentless bullying. A watchdog group attempted to stop the manga's publication; after that failed, the Japanese government attempted to ban its screening outside of Japan. In both cases, it's because they feared it would make the country look bad—but word of that got out, and now more people know about Japanese culture's treatment of deaf people and the cruel extent of Japanese bullying than they know about A Silent Voice itself.
- A very odd example from South Africa. In May 2012, an art exhibition was held in Johannesburg called Hail to the Thief II, which featured art by a local artist named Brett Murray. One of his paintings was called The Spear, which depicted President Jacob Zuma in a pose similar to Victor Ivanov's Lenin Lived, Lenin is Alive, Lenin Will Live, only Zuma's genitals were exposed. A newspaper, City Press, ran a story of the exhibition, and printed the picture and placed it on their website. For close to a week, nothing happened; then Zuma's party, the ANC, threatened to take the Goodman Gallery to court while publicly condemning the painting and demanding that City Press remove the image from their website. Because of the growing hostile response from Zuma supporters and the ruling party itself, the painting got duplicated in newspapers and websites around the world. It even led to the creation of a Wikipedia page with the offending painting right at the top.
- This had a bizarre repeat the following year, when a Grade 12 art student's unsympathetic portrayal of ANC leaders a set of single-print (ie. not for sale) T-shirts on display at a small local mall along with all of the other Grade 12 final art projects went from being seen by a couple of hundred locals, total, to getting a minor showing in the national news.
- A notable "reverse Streisand effect": In 2017, the city council of Charlottesville, Virginia voted to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee due to his support for the Confederacy. A rally that August by a group of white supremacists against the statue's removal ultimately ended in a vehicular attack that killed one woman. The uproar over this death led to a movement to take down more memorials of the Confederacy, with a statue in Durham, North Carolina being toppled over by protesters and Baltimore removing four monuments during the middle of the night.
- One of Dara Ó Briain's stand-up routines discusses the briefing notes he sometimes gets when he does corporate gigs for particular organizations which ask him not to mention certain things. Asking a comedian not to mention something, as he notes, is like "a red flag to a bull". He also points out that most of the time he wouldn't even have considered mentioning whatever he was asked not to mention in the first place if the extremely vague reasons why he shouldn't mention it hadn't made him all the more curious about it. He actually had to deal with an incident like this on Mock the Week where the executive producer ordered the comedians not to mention the blindness of a politician who the executive producer was friends with. Cue 5 minutes of jokes only about his blindness.
- Bill Bailey had a similar bit about the Swiss investment bank UBS prohibiting corporate stand-up gigs from making cracks about Nazi Gold. So Bailey walked on, mimed asking to open a pension, and when asked with what currency he replies "Naaaaaaaazzzzzziiii Goooooooooold! Just like YOU did!".
- Parodied by Gilbert Gottfried during the roast of Bob Saget, where he repeatedly and vehemently insisted that a rumor that BOB SAGET RAPED AND KILLED A GIRL IN 1990 was not true, despite the fact that there is no such rumor.
- When Don Rosa retired from working on the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, he wrote an essay for the last of the Egmont Don Rosa Collection series of hardcovers explaining why. This was due to a combination of failing eyesight, emotional exhaustion, and disgruntlement over Disney's continued refusal to offer their comics creators anything more than a low page-rate and, when forced, minimal credits. Disney refused to allow the essay to be included in the books, which caused Rosa to put it online. As he says on the linked page, this probably resulted in far more people reading the essay than if it had been published in a high-priced book aimed at hardcore fans and comics collectors.
- At the 2019 Biennial Book Fair in Rio de Janeiro, some Moral Guardian with too much time in their hands found the hardcover version of The Children's Crusade, and therein the scene where Teddy and Billy kiss as the former proposes to the latter (which consisted of a grand total of two pages). Posting the image on the internet was enough to get the attention of the city's conservative Neopentecostal Mayor, Marcelo Crivella, who then attempted to take the album out of circulation completely. Crivella even threatened to cancel the Book Fair's license outright, arguing that The Children's Crusade is a work with "sexual content" and "unsafe for children", who he also argued was the primary target demographic. All this for two pages in a hardcover collection containing nine full issues. Even when Crivella's attempts to ban the book failed — the Supreme Court ruled against this decision on the grounds of unconstitutional censorship — he went so far as to send city office inspectors to the Book Fair to confiscate every copy of The Children's Crusade they could find. To Crivella's horror, the inspectors reported that the album had sold out overnight in response to his threats. Whoops.
- By banning The Human Centipede 2 in the UK, the BBFC managed to give it large amounts of international publicity for free.
- While Basic Instinct was being filmed in San Francisco, a group of lesbian activists tried their best to impede progress and protest the film before release, as they did not like the depiction of lesbians in the movie. Their protest actually helped give the production free media coverage before it was even complete.
- William Randolph Hearst was well aware of this. Rather than having his media empire attack Citizen Kane, he forbade them from mentioning it at all. It worked. Although the film managed to make enough to break its budget, the lack of publicity prevented it from being a success, and it was largely forgotten about until its revival.
- If You Love This Planet, an anti-nuclear documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada, was suppressed by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1982 as "foreign political propaganda". The move backfired, causing a storm of protest that helped the film win the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject.
- Deliberately invoked by Howard Hughes with his 1943 film The Outlaw. At the time, it was unheard of to use a woman's sexuality as a selling point, so the promotion for the film centered almost entirely on Jane Russell being shown provocatively on posters, with Hughes hoping it would draw moral outrage and thus mass publicity for the film.
- Ted debuted at #2 in Brazil. Then a deputy tried to upgrade the film's rating on the grounds it is morally offensive (after bringing his 11-year-old son to watch it, despite the "inappropriate for under 16" rating). Result: Ted topped the box office charts in the following week, repeating the gross of its debut!
- Critics have frequently noted that in Godzilla (1998), it is constantly raining in New York City in order to cover up the CGI model for Godzilla. The rain simply made it more obvious that the filmmakers were trying to hide the conspicuous CGI.
- Attempted with Escape from Tomorrow, an independent Sanity Slippage horror film shot guerilla-style in Disney Theme Parks without permission; however, Disney was Genre Savvy enough to recognize what they were doing and that the filmmakers lacked the money to market it beyond Disney coming after it, so they simply ignored it completely and the movie made all of $171,000 on the way to Netflix obscurity.
- Before North Korea's protest against the film The Interview, the film was barely a blip on the public's radar: just another political comedy film with an absurd premise. The subsequent controversy and Sony cancelling the film's release caused news networks to dedicate hours of daily coverage to the film, giving it huge amounts of free publicity. Even its banning hadn't stopped public attention, as the issue of the film's cancelled premiere turned into a full-out matter of freedom of speech. A significant amount of analysts even predicted that at some point the whole film would get leaked, either by different hackers or those who worked on the film, just to see what all the fuss is about. Sony did it one better: they officially released the film on YouTube, who put it on the front page. Even further, North Korea particularly objected to one specific scene where Kim Jong-un, caught in an exploding helicopter, dies in slow-motion as his skin melts and his head explodes. Guess which particular scene quickly circulated throughout the Internet?
- This was defied with Robert Webb and Olivia Colman and the film Confetti, where they played nudists but were falsely told their nudity would be pixelated in the final product. They were originally going to sue the filmmakers but then decided against it as a lawsuit would only bring more attention to the relatively obscure film.
- The 1996 film adaptation of Crash (not to be confused with the 2004 film of the same name) came under fire from Northern Irish critic Alexander Walker, who had just seen it in Cannes. While he didn't call for it to be banned personally, the usual so-called Moral Guardians took to the streets again, with outright Narmish articles from The Daily Mail and the like demanding that the film be banned. This only drummed up British interest in going, with some surveyed audiences complaining that the uproar was disproportionate for what was an okay film, but wasn't enough for the film to make back its budget of nine million dollars.
- Ghostbusters (2016):
- An interesting case coming from a part of the audience, according to Rob Walker's opinion at least, as he thinks the backlash against the movie and the controversy it caused may have helped the movie gain free publicity. As it turned out, this trope was in full effect, but it didn't reach the desired result. The controversy made people who were interested or on the fence about watching the film avoid it at all costs, and the film ended up losing $70 million. Had they not pushed for the controversy, many people unaware of it would have shown up to watch the film.
- Before release, the first trailer for the film was the most disliked trailer on YouTube. Hoping to avoid a similar outcome, Sony decided not to release the second trailer on YouTube, opting for using Facebook instead. Cue the people uploading the trailer on their own, followed by a stream of dislikes every time.
- When Kirk Cameron released Saving Christmas, negative critic reviews and several middling audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes enraged him and caused him to go on an Internet mission telling the entire world to "storm the gates of Rotten Tomatoes". While die-hard fans were the only ones watching at the time, this tirade got the general public's attention and caused the opposite to happen; it led to Saving Christmas getting a zero from critics on the site and also got the Razzie Awards' attention. It ended with an even lower audience score and Cameron "winning" several Razzies, including "Worst Screen Combo with his ego" and "Worst Picture", as a result of him tripping into this. For what it's worth, the very low-budget film did make a profit, but Cameron has barely been heard from since.
- The original Silent Night, Deadly Night was the target of a massive amount of vitriol from outraged Moral Guardians who accused the director and distributors of the film of destroying the spirit of Christmas (which was just around the corner at the time, being released at the beginning of November) by having the killer, Billy, dressed up in a Santa Claus suit. There were large protests outside movie theaters showing the film, and it was utterly hated by the mainstream movie critics. The outrage and calls for the film to be pulled from theaters were so loud that in the end TriStar Pictures caved and did just that, ending the film's theatrical run only three weeks after its release. Unfortunately, all this negative attention and censorship only served to heighten awareness and appeal of the movie, leading to it having immense second-wind popularity on the emerging home video market, where it was gleefully advertised as "the movie they tried to stop you from seeing".
- A protest led by William Monroe Trotter to get The Birth of a Nation (1915) Banned in Boston ended up enhancing its popularity among the filmgoing public.
- Expelled, a documentary in support of Intelligent Design, landed interviews with atheist biologists PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins using false pretenses and used Quote Mining and Manipulative Editing to sabotage their statements. Myers tried to attend a screening of the film, but the filmmakers recognized Myers and would not allow him into the theater, apparently afraid that he would discover their tactics and expose them. All this did was make it clear that the filmmakers knew exactly how shady their tactics had been when Myers and Dawkins (who managed to get into the screening) blogged about the film.
- The makers of Gotti failed miserably in their attempt to utilize it after the film was destroyed by the critics who saw it, branding the film as "the movie the critics don't want you to see." Just about everyone instantly saw through the ploy and continued to stay away from the film, especially since it was quickly made public that the movie actually wasn't screened in advance for critics, making any supposed conspiracy impossible in the first place.
- Actively defied with the Pakistani movie International Guerillas, which was banned in the UK out of concerns for inciting violence against Salman Rushdie (see the Literature entry below). Rushdie himself opposed this decision even though he disliked the movie because he felt banning it would have only made it popular. The government relented, allowing the movie to be aired and sure enough, it faded into obscurity.
- Disney's Song of the South probably would not be as notorious as it is were it not for Disney refusing to give the film a home video released in the United States due to its racial controversy.
- When the documentary Radium City came out in 1987, documenting the effects of high levels of radioactivity in the city of Ottawa, Illinois due to a radium-dial factory operating there, the city's mayor urged everyone not to see the film. This, naturally, resulted in a standing-room-only audience at its Ottawa showing.
- In the months leading up to Joker's wide release, a large number of American film critics, journalists, and bloggers endlessly attacked the film, claiming that its portrayal of the Joker would inspire "incel" violence and mass shootings, and it escalated to the point where they even tried to get the film's release cancelled. As a result of the outcry, many police forces and even the U.S. Army were put on alert on release day, and Warner Bros., tired of the endless attacks from the press, barred journalists from attending the red carpet premiere. The constant negative publicity and drama only served to increase interest among moviegoers to see what riled up the media so badly, and the movie smashed the opening weekend box office record for the month of October as a result, eventually becoming the first R-rated film to make over $1 billion worldwide. As for the violence predicted by various members of the media, there weren't any documented cases of such over the movie, so presumably there wasn't any at all.
- In June 2020, in response to the racial protests that occurred following the death of George Floyd, Gone with the Wind was removed from HBO Max after filmmaker John Ridley made a tweet about the film being racist (a case of Fair for Its Day) in an attempt to be sensitive during the civil unrest and to show support for the protests. Once this was discovered, it ended up jumping up in home video sales on other websites like Amazon in response and criticism was thrown at HBO for removing it. They announced they would add the film back later with a Content Warning.
- Anthony Sbarro, owner of the mall pizza chain Sbarro, praised the negative feedback that rated Sbarro as some of the worst chain restaurants in the United States in that the taste and quality of their pizzas never matched the smell permeating throughout the shopping malls. He openly stated the harsh criticisms helped his brand gain attention and increased publicity and sales at his pizza shops.
- Deliberately invoked with US West Coast sandwich chain Ike's Love & Sandwiches. The titular Ike received a cease-and-desist letter from KFC after using the phrase "finger-licking good" on his restaurants' mission statement on their walls. In response, he put black tape over (part of) the phrase, photocopied the cease-and-desist notice, and taped it at eye level next to the mission statement on the wall.note He then did this with every Ike's location, and when new ones open, he writes the same censored mission statement—with the phrase "finger-licking good" written before being taped up—and a new photocopy of the cease-and-desist taped nearby. This was done to ensure every customer of Ike's Love & Sandwiches will know of KFC's legal action against the chain—and since "Finger-Lickin' Good" was written on the cease-and-desist, anyone who reads it can figure out what the censored phrase actually was.
- The Tranby Croft Affair, which was used as inspiration for Moonraker by Ian Fleming, was a card-cheating scandal in 1890. Arthur Wilson, friend of Prince Albert Edward (the future King Edward VII), held a dinner party for Edward's friends and retainers. One of them, Sir William Gordon-Cumming of the Scots Guard, was caught cheating during an illegal game of baccarat. He signed an agreement never to play cards again in exchange for everyone's silence, but word quickly got out. Gordon-Cumming attempted to sue for slander, which led to all of the witness accounts of his cheating being publicized across the United Kingdom and the first time an heir to the throne had been called to the witness stand since 1411. The scandal caused Gordon-Cumming to be dismissed from the army and kicked out of all of his clubs.
- In 1972, Siemens, a German megacorporation, sued a German satirist for writing a satirical history of the company. The trial ultimately brought much more attention to the company's sordid history during World War Two: using forced Jewish labor in their factories to supply electrical parts to Nazi concentration camps and death camps.note
- Herostratus may be the Ur Example of this Trope: He set fire to the Temple of Artemis in a bid for notoriety. In response, he was sentenced to a damnatio memoriae forbidding anyone from mentioning his name (either orally or in writing). As to how effective that law was? Well, you see...
- The Vatican's Index of Forbidden Books (Index Librorum Prohibitorum; created in 1557, during the Reformation) was a list of books which good Catholics were not supposed to read, including works by Protestant theologians, some scientific writings, etc. Naturally, it backfired it tended to be used as a reading list, and the printers used it as a guide on what to print next.
- Nicolaus Copernicus's book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (advancing a heliocentric universe) was put on the Vatican's index of forbidden books in 1616 and was followed less than a year later with a new edition. Not bad for a technical textbook that had been out of print for 60 years prior.
- Lynne Cheney, wife of Dick, wrote a novel in 1981 called Sisters, featuring sexual content and lesbianism her attempts to prevent a 2006 reprint actually helped publicize it.
- McDonald's sued a small activist group over a flier being passed out at one of its restaurants, that alleged certain wrongdoings by the fast food chain. If left alone, only a couple hundred people may have seen it. However, the trial ended up taking over a decade and got international media attention. After spending millions on lawyers, McDonald's was awarded £60,000 in damage from the activists.
- Fox's lawsuit against Al Franken over his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, claimed that the title infringed on the "Fair and Balanced" slogan of the Fox News Channel. Franken and his supporters still insist the real man behind the lawsuit was Bill O'Reilly for what Franken said about him in the book. News of the lawsuit caused the book to shoot up to Amazon's number one seller before it was even officially released. As for the suit many of the plaintiff's arguments were met with actual laughter in the courtroom, and Fox withdrew the suit at the judge's recommendation.
- A minor example from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the author of the worst poetry in the universe is named in the original radio show as "Paul Neil Milne Johnstone of Redbridge, Essex" a former schoolmate of Douglas Adams, who wrote deliberately terrible poetry and who respectfully asked that his name and location be removed from the book adaptations. Thus people now ask why the name changed from Paul to a 'Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings' in Sussex in subsequent versions and discover the story of where Adams got the idea from.
- Older Than Feudalism: In one of his moral treatises, Seneca speaks of a house on the coast that was the property of Caligula, which was destroyed by that emperor because his mother was detained as a prisoner by the former emperor Tiberius. Seneca related that when strangers saw the house, they didn't pay any attention to it, but since Caligula left only ruins, all were interested to know its history.
- Dr. Jose Rizal's famous novel Noli Me Tangere, whose controversial content earned the ire of the Spanish Friars, caused the latter to declare that anyone reading it would be charged with heresy and be excommunicated. This only caused the local populace to become curious, causing sales to skyrocket.
- Many libraries and bookstores invoke this during Banned Books Week, putting up displays of frequently banned books and prompting kids to read them to see what all the fuss is about.
- Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses was selling a few hundred copies a week until the fatwa against Rushdie. Afterwards, it became so popular that it sold five times more copies than the #2 best-seller. It's still the publisher's best-selling book of all time.
- In 2018, Fariña, a book by journalist Nacho Carretero documenting drug dealing cases in Galicia in the '90s, was seized by court order after a former mayor mentioned in the book sued Carretero for damages. That very week, the book became a bestseller on Amazon Spain and the premiere episode of the TV series based on it which was not affected by the court order since the judge considered the script of the series was unknown and the airing date was uncertain was promoted for a preview release.
- Bob Klapish's book on the 1992 Mets, The Worst Team Money Could Buy: The Collapse of the New York Mets, got unexpected publicity when Klapish was involved in an incident with one of the team's under-performing players. Bobby Bonilla, who was acquired by the Pirates the previous year and had frequently clashed with the New York media, threatened physical violence on Klapish and had to be restrained by his teammates. As it reflected an accurate portrayal of the Mets at that point, sales of the book skyrocketed.
- The Literary Review magazine has a yearly "Bad Sex in Fiction" award, meant to poke fun at instances of IKEA Erotica or Mills and Boon Prose. Pretty much every other year it happens, one of the nominated authors ends up getting angry at them and very publicly demanding their removal from the list or insulting the magazine for its raunchy attitude or attempt to depreciate their art. These affairs also have a habit of reaching mainstream outlets — both exposing a rather niche magazine to a much bigger audience, and putting a spotlight on sections in the author's book where they wrote "turgid meat stick" or broke anatomy.
- In 1855, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass contained apparent references to masturbation, homosexuality, and other sex acts. Literature magazine The Criterion called it "a mass of stupid filth," and another reviewer told Whitman that he should kill himself for writing it. It was even banned outright in Boston before it was published. However, Leaves sold out the day it was released, mostly from people wanting to find out just what all the fuss was about.
- Happened in the late '10s in South African politics, regarding the publication of unflattering non-fiction books.
- The President's Keepers came out in late 2017 and was an exposé on then-president Jacob Zuma and the alleged corruption he and many of the ANC party was involved in. Zuma and his loyalist criticized the book and proposed banning it (which isn't allowed by the post-1994 South African constitution). This caused the book to not only get sold out for several printings but anti-Zuma people began spreading the book illegally through social media. The publication of the book and its spread through social media was a major blow against Zuma, and eventually, he had to resign as president.
- Gangster State was launched in April 2019 and was a take-down on Ace Magashule, Secretary General of the ANC Party and possible presidential contender. When the book was launched, having learned absolutely nothing from the President's Keepers affair, Magashule loyalists said they'd burn the book, then stormed a book launch and destroyed several copies. The book, which didn't have that much interest up until that point, sold out immediately and illegal PDF's were disseminated across social media again.
- Lady Chatterley's Lover depicts an upper-class woman having an affair with a lower-class gardener, and also features crude language that was shocking for 1928. The novel had to be privately published and was banned for over thirty years in several countries, but really made headlines when it became the centre of a UK obscenity trial in 1960 when Penguin Books made a then-new edition. Not only did Penguin Books win, but the media attention the novel received lead to it getting sold out to curious readers who wondered what the hullabaloo was about, though its author D. H. Lawrence had died in 1930. While most literary critics site Sons and Lovers as Lawrence's best novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover is still likely his most well-known work to the general public.
- This happened to self-published author Jacqueline Howett with her 2011 novel The Greek Seaman, which only a small group of people had read and fewer reviews, though they were mostly favourable. That is, until an Internet blogger reviewed her book at her request and, while praising it for having a compelling plot, cited multiple spelling and grammar errors which took him out of the picture. Howett proceeded to have an emotional meltdown in the comments and demanded the review be taken down, triggering a Flame War and eventually resorting to vicious attacks on those who challenged her immaturity. The review and the trainwreck that followed is still up and can be found here, and Howett inadvertently drew attention to her novel which has received hundreds of negative reviews.
- Fawlty Towers and its main character Basil Fawlty was based on Donald Sinclairnote , an eccentric and irascible Torquay hotelier whom John Cleese had observed during a stay in his hotel during a Monty Python's Flying Circus shoot. Years after the success of the show, Sinclair's widow contacted the newspapers to complain about the depiction of the character based on her husband, claiming that Cleese had unfairly exaggerated Sinclair's eccentricity, incompetence, and foul temper. Far from salvaging her husband's reputation, all it did was provoke a lot of independent witnesses to also contact the papers with a lot of anecdotes about Sinclair. All of these accounts suggested that Cleese was not too far off the mark; if anything, Cleese had actually downplayed how irritable Sinclair was. His widow kept silent after that.
- Australia's Nine Network promoted the beans out of Underbelly, and Australians were certainly interested in this tale of the gangsters they heard about on the news. However, the legal battles the show faced with issues such as the concurrent court cases leading to it being banned in Victoria out of fear of influencing the jury made this something of a Forbidden Fruit for Victorians, and interest in the show exploded to the point where radio hosts would take calls about the series being offered bootleg at construction sites, then say where they got their own illegitimate copies from.
- Married... with Children was an extreme case with the famous Rakolta Boycott. The ire of one Terry Rakolta was drawn by the episode "Her Cups Runneth Over," where Al buys a bra for his wife Peggy and ogles a mannequin (though the mannequin's back was to the camera, so the audience never saw anything). Rakolta wrote letters to the show's sponsors, getting a few of them to pull support for Married... with Children. However, the boycott utterly failed. A few sponsors did withdraw support for the show, but the stocks for Bounty, the show's biggest sponsor, skyrocketed. The show's ratings dramatically increased, despite Fox moving it to a later timeslot and toning down the sexual content. And ultimately, the few advertisers who did pull their ads from the show all came back within a year. The boycott thus had the opposite effect than intended, when curiosity about the boycott and the show itself created a ratings boost for the series, potentially being the cause of it lasting for several more years. The show itself made a reference to it in one episode featuring a television show made about the Bundys' lives, which got immediately cancelled because "Some woman in Michigan didn't like it".
- Kitchen Nightmares:
- The series has the infamous "Amy's Baking Company" episode, in which viewers watched in shock as they saw the restaurant's owners, Amy and Samy, berate customers, employees, and even Gordon Ramsay himself, their egos clouding even the most basic of criticism and interpreted it as attacks in the end, for the first time in the series, Ramsay left the restaurant thanks to the two's behavior. When the episode was over, many of the viewers approached their Facebook page to express their displeasure, only to have the two blow up at them. Many people came to it on the basis of watching their meltdown. This also ironically benefited Amy's Baking Company, thanks to the Bile Fascination. People who went there were either a), people who don't believe anyone can really be that bad at owning a restaurant and still be in business, thinking it was all set up as fake "reality" TV for ratings, or b), people who go there specifically to provoke a response from Amy or Samy as some weird badge of honor. When the show went back to the restaurant as part of a special episode, nobody was surprised to see that nothing had changed at all. In 2015, the company finally shut down.
- The case with Dillon's Restaurant is another significant example. Being only the second episode produced for the series, it hadn't even aired yet before a significant controversy played out in the press. Dillon's floor manager, Martin Hyde, attempted to sue Ramsay and FOX Television for an alleged negative portrayal of himself in the episode, as well as trying to have the episode publicly banned from being aired on television again. Naturally, all this did was increase curiosity about the show when it began airing and resulted in a huge publicity/viewing spike, with people who watched the episode realizing that Hyde was just as bad in interviews about the lawsuit as he was portrayed in the episode itself. As a result, the lawsuit was thrown out of court, Hyde was left disgraced, and the show would go on to helm a highly-rated first season (and successful seven-season run) as a result.
- A campaign to ban Housos from Australian TV backfired when two big TV networks, Nine and Seven, slammed the show as reality TV filth. When it was pointed out that Housos is actually a satire with paid actors — and had never pretended to be anything else — they ended up promoting it instead to cover their embarrassment. Its creator, Paul Fenech, credited this with bringing the show to a wider audience.
- More than one creator involved with Doctor Who in the seventies and eighties have said that, while they never intentionally sought the attention of the National Viewers and Listeners Association, they knew to expect a ratings spike whenever it happened.
- Zig-zagged by Channel 4's "red triangle" broadcasts, which began in September 1986. Aired after midnight, these were generally arthouse films with content inappropriate for regular broadcasts; the red triangle was displayed in the corner of the screen to warn viewers about said content. The NVALA, and several British newspapers, campaigned vehemently against the broadcasts... which caused viewing figures to shoot up as people tuned in to see what all the fuss was about. note Strangely, the trope was then subverted: those who tuned in expecting softcore porn found themselves watching regular arthouse films instead, and promptly tuned back out, causing the broadcasts' viewing figures to decline.note Channel 4 quietly discontinued them after just three months.
- In November 2015, the Iowa Republican party explicitly forbade The Daily Show with Trevor Noah from having their correspondents attend an event because "[they] were afraid they were going to make fun of Iowa." So, host Trevor Noah and correspondent Jordan Klepper proceeded to mock Iowa in a manner of wishing they could.
- Ben Affleck appeared on the genealogy program Finding Your Roots, and learned that he was distantly related to his close friend Matt Damon, but also had ancestors who owned slaves in Georgia. Embarrassed, he succeeded in getting that information removed from his particular episode, until it was learned that he had that information removed. He ended up issuing a press release apologizing for the act.
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:
- Invoked and discussed in the "Right to be Forgotten" segment, where the man who petitioned for it to occur in regards to his personal debts from 1998:
Oliver: In doing so, he's now world-famous for being "That Spanish guy with debts from 1998". The only thing I know about him is the only thing he didn't want me to know.
- It happened again during their segment on coal. After receiving a Cease & Desist letter from Murray Energy a series first they focused far more on the company and their CEO, Bob Murray, than they initially intended to. Taken a step further in a later episode. Bob Murray sued them for slander over the episode, and the lawsuit was eventually dismissed. Last Week Tonight did a followup episode discussing the suit and the general problem of SLAPP suits, culminating in a song and dance routine in Times Square mocking Bob Murray.
- Invoked and discussed in the "Right to be Forgotten" segment, where the man who petitioned for it to occur in regards to his personal debts from 1998:
- In August 2017, ESPN pulled one of their announcers from a football game hosted by the University of Virginia due to his name, Robert Lee, which is similar to Robert E. Lee, since they were afraid someone on the internet would turn it into a joke. Not to mention that this was shortly after the infamous (and deadly) white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia (the universitys hometown), which exploited the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue to help their cause. Of course, the internet caught wind of this and turned it into a joke, using it as an example of Political Correctness Gone Mad. The man in question is Asian-American, which added another level of irony. In the end, memes were made and ESPN was embarrassed.
- ABC faced heavy pressure from right-wing organizations and advertisers over airing "The Puppy Episode" of Ellen, which Ellen DeGeneres used to publicly come out, and said organizations ordered boycotts of the episode. This only helped the episode become the show's highest-rated and most-awarded, and it helped pave the way for greater gay representation in popular media.
- When Netflix blocked an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj from airing in Saudi Arabia because it criticized Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, as a brutal tyrant, that episode quickly became massively popular and gained far more views on YouTube than any other clips uploaded from the show. It helped that some people reporting on the ban were mistaken about its breadth and thought that Netflix had pulled the episode from its service in all countries (in truth, it was only pulled in Saudi Arabia). The episode in question can be watched on YouTube here.
- RuPaul's Drag Race: The Season 12 reunion and finale episodes had to be filmed via Zoom from the cast members' homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. RuPaul, not having access to his team of stylists, wore what appeared to be a luchador mask and a hoodie with the hood up in both episodes. This just made it painfully clear that Ru hasn't done his own makeup and costuming in ages and that he might no longer trust his skills in that area. But even out of drag, most viewers would've been more accepting of a 60-year-old man with a few wrinkles than that ridiculous mask.
- In another COVID-related example, when the British comedy panel show Hypothetical returned for its first season after the pandemic began. hosts James Acaster and Josh Widdicombe revealed that one of the notes given to them by the channel was to not mention the COVID-19 pandemic at all. It was less to pretend the pandemic wasn't happening at all and more out of a concern that this might date the episodes on subsequent repeats (for context, the channel in question — Dave — is notorious for heavily relying on repeats in its broadcast schedule), but given the many obvious changes that had been made to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines, coupled with it being unlikely that the effects of COVID would be forgotten any time soon, everyone concerned pretty clearly considered this an incredibly ludicrous demand. So naturally the hosts and their guests made a point of loudly declaring how "normal" everything was whenever anything that was clearly a result of COVID-related precautions happened and overtly pretending that there was no such thing as COVID-19 in a way that clearly drew attention to the elephant in the room.
- After the release of the Queen song "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)", former band manager Norman Sheffield decided to sue for defamation, despite the fact that he was never mentioned by name. He succeeded only in informing the world whom the song's scathing insults were targeting.
- Metallica's hardline stance on peer-to-peer downloading resulted only in their songs becoming even more widely pirated. Other bands were hit by this to a lesser degree.
- Drake averts this to the point where he almost inverts this. Even though both of his albums have been leaked ahead of time, he usually is okay with it, though his record company is not as happy.
- After it was personally banned by one of its personalities (who interrupted a chart rundown to point out its Double Entendre-laden lyrics), "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood was banned by the BBC. Two weeks later, it was the number-one song in the UK.
- One Direction:
- Fans shipped Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson and nobody thought much of it. Then all public contact between the two suddenly stopped and they awkwardly denied it a few times. Now the fans have entire essays of compiled evidence that they are actually in a relationship that their management covers up.
- There was also the time an article praised Louis for supporting the LGBT community and angry tweets came from his Twitter account saying he wasn't gay. Later on, Zayn, who hadn't even spoken to them in months, was asked about fans invading his privacy and he randomly said that Harry and Louis weren't together. Okay, guys.
- When Tipper Gore announced that she was trying to censor 2 Live Crew's music in the late '80s, their music became even more popular. Tipper Gore and the PMRC, in general, were the Streisand Effect of the '80s; almost every band they went after for inappropriate lyrics and whatnot ended up becoming even more popular due to the publicity. In particular, one of the PMRC's biggest targets, WASP, saw their record sales double and vocalist Black Lawless was all too happy to use them as a vehicle to promote the band. Finally, like the Eminem example below, during one awards speech, Steven Tyler thanked Tipper Gore for ensuring that if an album had a few dirty words on it, it would sell an extra million copies.
- After some radio stations banned Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" due to its perceived anti-Catholic message, the album it was on — The Stranger — shot up the charts.
- An example of genre savviness; Eminem, after receiving an award for his breakthrough album, publicly thanked all the people who threw a shit-fit over the album for making it a hit.
- Similarly, after Alice Cooper's "School's Out" hit #1 in the UK, he sent notorious Moral Guardian Mary Whitehouse a bunch of flowers. Whitehouse had successfully campaigned for the song to be banned from the BBC's chart show Top of the Pops, and Cooper believed the ensuing publicity had helped it top the chart.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic benefits from this from time to time due to his parody songs. While Yankovic legally doesn't need permission to record a parody, he still makes it a personal rule to get permission anyway in order to maintain good relations in the music industry. However, rejections of permission can sometimes help his songs become bigger than approval:
- Coolio's anger over "Amish Paradise", Yankovic's parody of "Gangsta's Paradise", helped make the song a bigger hit. Yankovic thought he did have permission due to a miscommunication, and Coolio's anger over the whole situation made fans more attracted to the song.
- Before Straight Outta Lynwood was released, "You're Pitiful", a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful", was set to be the lead single. James Blunt approved of it, but at the last minute, Blunt's label, Atlantic Records, changed their mind, and "White and Nerdy" became the lead single instead. As a result, Yankovic released "You're Pitiful" for free and performs it on tour, mocking Atlantic in the process. Due to the backlash and the video for "White and Nerdy", the Other Wiki had to lock Atlantic's page to prevent Yankovic's angry fans from defacing it.
- "Perform This Way", Yankovic's parody of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way", looked to be a case of this at first — he wasn't given permission to publish it, so he put it up on YouTube instead and it became an immediate sensation. It became such a sensation, in fact, that it eventually came to the notice of Lady Gaga herself, who hadn't actually been consulted on the original decision. She thought it was hilarious and gave Yankovic the go-ahead.
- When the Sex Pistols released "God Save the Queen" in 1977, both the BBC and the IBA refused to broadcast the song. It quickly reached number one on the singles chart. However, doubt and controversy remain as to whether "God Save the Queen" actually did get to #1. Officially, Rod Stewart's "I Don't Want to Talk About It" (no pun intended) was number one that week. However, well-founded allegations persist that the charts were doctored by BBC and recording company executives, fearful for their chances of retiring with knighthoods.
- The BBC expressed concern following the scurrilous and seditious popularity of a re-release of "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead!" note as a result of the death of Margaret Thatcher. The song was subject to a campaign to get it to number one on the singles chart for the occasion; it made it to #2, but the BBC refused to play it, even in the relevant Radio One Chart Show.
- In 1991, at the CMA awards, the video of the year went to Garth Brooks, "The Thunder Rolls". In his speech, he thanked TNN and CMT for having banned the video and brought attention to it.
- BECK used to end interviews angrily if the subject of him being involved with the Church of Scientology was brought up. Back in the '90s, this wasn't widely known, nor was it publicized. But due to his reactions, his connection with the church and attempts to suppress it became one of the most identifiable things about him. He has since become a bit more comfortable about this due to the fact that he knows that his fans are mostly accepting of it, but he still leaves huge gaps when talking about his childhood.
- Madonna made frequent use of this between 1989-1993, from the moment that her 1989 video for "Like a Prayer" resulted in her partnership with Pepsi being terminated (causing the single to hit #1 on the Hot 100 and become one of her all-time biggest selling singles). In 1990, the music video for "Justify My Love" was banned by MTV. The music video was subsequently sold on VHS, ultimately becoming certified 4x platinum. The single also shot to #1 on the Hot 100. Her 1992 album Erotica and photo book Sex were also big sellers, both fueled by the controversy and public backlash.
- In 2016, Axl Rose filed quite a few DCMA copyright notices with Google, asking that "unflattering" photos (taken of him at a 2010 concert by Winnipeg Free Press photographer Boris Minkevich) be removed from circulation on the Internet, as it had inspired the so-called "Fat Axl" meme. Predictably, this news has caused the "Fat Axl" meme (which has existed quietly since at least 2011) to explode. Welcome to the jungle, indeed.
- This happened to Bill O'Reilly a couple of times when he decided to go after rap music in the early 2000s. When he went after Ludacris, who became popular during the rise of Southern rap, he elevated him to superstar status and made him one of the biggest music stars of that decade. It also didn't help that soon afterwards, news came out about O'Reilly getting sued for sexual harassment, a problem that kept growing over time and led to his eventual firing from Fox News Channel many years later. Another example happened during an interview with rapper Cam'ron and rap manager Damon Dash. O'Reilly got visibly upset when Dash made a point about rap music encouraging positive work ethics. Cam'ron pointed this out during the show, and this led to the "U Mad" meme that is still popularly used to this day. Needless to say, O'Reilly's attempt to get people from supporting rap music had the complete opposite effect.
- In September 2017, a small blog named PopFront published an article suggesting a Taylor Swift song contained alt-right dog whistles. It received exactly one comment until two months later, when Swift's lawyer sent them an angry letter demanding they take the post down, and that they also couldn't publish said angry letter because it was copyrighted. Naturally, PopFront published it. This led to major music publications like Pitchfork and Spin picking up the story in addition to national organizations like the Washington Post, the ACLU getting involved, and many, many more people seeing the article.
- In October 2017, William Francis (the former lead singer of Aiden who was performing as the solo act William Control) abruptly dropped out of a tour and returned home, citing a desire to cease his relentless touring and producing schedule to focus on his family and record company. Around that time, a (now deleted) Tumblr blog had posted evidence and accounts from various women and young girls stating that he had been luring mentally-ill women into abusive BDSM relationships in which he ignored boundaries to rape, beat, and extort them. This blog remained virtually unknown until June 2018, when he publicly addressed the accusations and suddenly shut down Control Records while going dark on all social media. This only attracted further attention to the blog as fans Googled the accusations, with his victims also posting screenshots of messages from Will threatening them and saying that they'd never be believed (along with accusations that he was actually making his money through pimping and extortion and using his merchandise business as a legal cover). The blog even reposted statements from his wife explaining that she had knowledge of the offenses and divorced him over it. This resulted in a police investigation across two continents; while he faced no charges due to lack of evidence and has restarted his music career, most of the top Google results for him as of January 2019 are articles on his sexual predation and both his personal and act Wikipedia pages include the information, ensuring that any potential new fans will see it as soon as they look him up.
- Linkin Park recorded a number of in-house demo CDs in the run-up to their Hybrid Theory album, one of which included a mellow song called "She Couldn't", which the group never released partly because it heavily used a sample they could not get the rights to use, and partly because it was too soft for the edgy sound the group had at the time. After the leak, Mike Shinoda mentioned the song on a blog post but was soon forced to take it down by the label. As a result, fans have continued to widely share the song and note its influence on their later work.
- Notably averted with Radiohead in 2019 when 18 hours of OK Computer sessions were copied and leaked online by someone who had been involved with the band during the "OK Not OK" reissue period. They had previously tried to extort money from the band thinking that the group would want to suppress the material in this manner. In reality, the opposite happened - Thom Yorke officially released the material as a download, in higher quality than the leaks, on the condition that the proceeds went to charity.
- Deliberately invoked by David Bowie in the 70s when he started touring America as Ziggy Stardust. He announced that he would be doing no radio interviews and went everywhere surrounded by bodyguards trying to keep him from the public gaze. This ended up attracting a huge amount of attention...Which was exactly his aim.
- The Clash's final album Cut the Crap turned out to be so disastrous when it was released, that lead singer Joe Strummer broke up the band shortly after its release and declared it to be an Old Shame. As a result, the album has been treated as an Un-person. Any box sets of The Clash omit Cut the Crap with the exception of its only single "This is England", and any history books or documentaries about them makes suspiciously little reference to this album compared to others. Of course, all of this particular Un-person treatment has caused a lot of people to become very curious about the album as a result, even if they do end up seeing why...
- The version of "Louie Louie" performed by The Kingsmen was recorded with absolutely no budget, with the band members huddled around a single microphone. There was even a mistake that was left in due to said lack of budget. The end result was a recording where you couldn't even make out the lyrics, and it was seemingly destined for obscurity. That was, until someone complained that the song's lyrics were obscene; the FBI ended up investigating, eventually concluding that the song was "unintelligible at any speed".note Probably in due to this controversy, the song wound up rocketing to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming one of the most iconic songs of the '60s garage rock scene, as well as the unofficial song of the state of Washington.
- Rupert Holmes made his musical claim to fame with "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" in 1979, but the majority of his entire career was as a songwriter. As he documented, he intentionally wrote a song in 1971 so controversial that he wanted it to get banned. The song "Timothy" by The Buoys, was about three miners who were trapped after a collapse. Two of them resorted to eating the titular Timothy just to survive from starvation. Sure enough, radio stations started to pull the song once they actually heard the lyrics, but people started to wonder why the song wasn't being played, so they called up other radio stations and requested that they play it. The song ended up reaching #4 on the charts, forcing the music industry to acknowledge its existence. Some stations tried to soften the lyrics by claiming that "Timothy" was actually a donkey, but Rupert debunked that theory. The band became a One-Hit Wonder in the US, but at least it gave two of the band's members enough of a footing into the industry, as they would later form a more successful band called Dakota.
- On April 10 2020, soon after the breakout of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Poland, Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the country's ruling Law and Justice party, decided to visit the grave of his twin brother Lech to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death in the Smolensk disaster, while the COVID-related restrictions imposed by his government forbade the rest of the Polish people from doing the same for their loved ones. A month later, famous singer-songwriter Kazik released a single about the incident, titled "Twój ból jest lepszy niż mój" ("Your pain is better than mine"). While it reached the top of the state-run Polish Radio Station III's music chart (which has for years been the most notable of its kind), it didn't attract much attention beyond that, with the music video sitting around a couple hundred thousand views on YouTube. That is, until the station's editor-in-chief Tomasz Kowalczewski nullified that week's chart (which was widely interpreted as having been done on the insistence of Law and Justice's top brass), claiming that the vote was rigged somehow. This controversy led to the song skyrocketing in popularity, reaching almost 8.3 million views a week after the initial Station III chart. It also led to Marek Niedźwiecki, one of Poland's most respected radio broadcasters and the station's biggest draws, leaving to start his own Internet radio station, with plenty of his colleagues following suit. Without most of its top talent, Station III later experienced a massive ratings decline, dropping to 50% of its share of radio listeners from a year prior.
- The music video for the Childish Gambino song "This is America" has been subject to countless memes, despite (or perhaps because of) its intense, politically-charged nature. Vice Media, among others, took exception to this, telling people to stop and lambasting them for ignoring the point of the song and video. Vice Media is already a controversial media outlet in various pockets of the internet, so there were those who were more than happy to further make fun of the video, either because they learned about it through Vice, or to spite them. Or both.
- The Trope Namer, Streisand's house, is an especially powerful example since it has become shorthand to describe the trope whenever anything else suffers this fate, and not just on this wiki. If anything becomes popular because someone is trying to bury it, there's always a chance that Streisand's house will be mentioned in passing, even if the topic at hand has absolutely nothing to do with it besides sharing the effect.
- This is a well known counteract on YouTube. If it happens, you can expect the offending video will be mirrored on several channels the next day.
- The MPAA encountered this in 2007; it attempted to stop popular social aggregator Digg from allowing an encryption key to the HD-DVD and Blu-ray formats from being posted with a DMCA takedown. When the takedown attempt became public knowledge, hundreds of stories containing the key were submitted and upvoted on Digg. For hours, dozens of repetitions of the magic number formed literally the only content on the entire front page of the site. Simultaneously, dozens of other websites mirrored the key in defiance of the censorship. Eventually, Digg executives threw up their hands and said, "Fine. You guys want this information here so bad so we won't try to stop you anymore." And the MPAA couldn't really do anything about it, because the way Digg works, the chances were slightly worse than "hopeless" that the initial DMCA takedown would have really worked anyway. More people probably can recognize the string of numbers than how many ever bought an HD-DVD player. Predictably, some people posted the encryption key on That Other Wiki, and the administration wanted to have it removed. This led to the same effect in miniature, as other editors copied the key to their user pages and let it spread like wildfire all over again.
- The Church of Scientology ran afoul of the effect in 2008: their DMCA takedown of a video on YouTube of Tom Cruise talking about Scientology resulted in the eventual creation of Project Chanology, the ongoing Internet-based crusade to have the Church's status as a religion revoked and to bring to light the various wrongdoings of the Church. Similarly, after Chanology's creation, attempts by Scientology to have specific documents about the Church and the religion itself erased from the Internet have failed miserably, with mirrors popping up almost as soon as a takedown attempt is issued. Much earlier was Scientology's attempt to shut down the Usenet group 'alt.religion.scientology' in 1995. From this point on, it's called Scientology vs. the Internet.
- In 2009, an advertisement from fashion company Ralph Lauren was posted on the blog "Photoshop Disasters" and tech news website Boing Boing because of the excessively thin appearance of the model in the ad. Ralph Lauren sent a DMCA takedown notice to both Blogspot (the host of "Photoshop Disasters") and Boing Boing; while Blogspot removed the post, Boing Boing refused on the grounds of fair use and publicly mocked the takedown notice in a satirical rebuttal. From there, the story picked up steam and was talked about on hundreds of other websites and blogs, each one mirroring the ad in question. Days later, Ralph Lauren apologized for the horrible Photoshop, not for the DMCA takedown notice.
- In February 2010, Microsoft forced security web site Cryptome offline with a DMCA takedown notification to their hosting company, due to Cryptome hosting Microsoft's "Global Criminal Compliance Handbook" — a guide on the surveillance services Microsoft performs for law enforcement agencies on its online platforms — for all to see. When Cryptome went down, the web replied in kind, with many sites hosting the document themselves in protest of the DMCA takedown. Microsoft eventually saw what kind of a backlash they were risking, and backpedaled quite furiously: they pulled the takedown notice, apologized to Cryptome and its readers (saying they only wanted to have the document taken down, not the entire site), and worked with Cryptome's hosting company to get the site back up as fast as possible.
- Wikileaks. The U.S. government felt huge concern when Wikileaks stated that it would leak something very big. Much to their fear, they leaked 250,000 cables, pissing them off enough that the Pentagon was reported to have been looking for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's location. More people have heard about it. And for a time, Google suggested it when you typed the very first letter of its name, suggesting it above even The Other Wiki. Assange himself fell afoul of the Streisand Effect when he tried to prevent the release of his autobiography out of fears that some of the passages might harm his efforts to avoid extradition to Sweden. Naturally, his efforts to stop people from reading the autobiography made more people aware of its existence.
- Once, a woman in Wisconsin posted a comment on a blog. The blog owner later let the blog's domain name lapse, and it was taken over by a namesquatter who redirected visitors to various sexually explicit websites. Sometime later, the lady did a Yahoo! search on her own name and was mortified to find that one of the links in the result set led to porn. She set out to restore her good name and reputation and figured that the best way to do this would be to sue Yahoo! for wilful malicious defamation. In open court, she offered to prove that she was a sophisticated, well-educated and highly intelligent professional woman, with important and valuable friends, that she in no way had ever engaged in a promiscuous lifestyle or other overt sexual activities, and that she had written two poems that appear on Danish Web sites supporting the preservation of the baby seal population in eastern Canada. For this, she was roundly ridiculed in the blogosphere. Then it appears that Anonymous took an interest in the case. Guess what the poor lady now finds when she Googles herself?
- When British footballer Ryan Giggs was caught having an affair with former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas, his lawyers filed a super-injunction to keep Thomas from selling her story and the news media from revealing his name. Many news channels and magazines took offence to that, starting a debate on the nature of super-injunctions and using many Suspiciously Specific Denials to hint at his identity. When his name was revealed on Twitter, he had his lawyers try to sue Twitter for ignoring the injunction. Twitter, of course, is not bound by UK law and this action only caused many celebrities and ordinary users hitting back by revealing his name in their feeds. Congratulations, Giggs: You made an enemy of both the Old Media and the New Media and turned a one-shot story that would have grabbed the attention of a small portion of the public for a few days into a national debate that went on for weeks, while becoming the laughing stock of the foreign media, who are not bound by UK laws. The entire mess eventually reached Parliament, where questions were raised about how relevant the law was considering the rise of social media. You know you messed up when your attempt to conceal your affair ends up with the Prime Minister discussing it in the democratic forum of the nation.
MP John Hemming: It would not be practical to imprison the 75,000 Twitter users who had named the player.
- In April 2016, the question of whether super-injunctions are practical or even plausible in the internet age was raised again, when a celebrity couple identified as PJS and YMA fought to conceal details of their sex life; specifically that PJS had been engaging in extramarital threesomes with another couple. Since this was apparently something that YMA was aware of and accepted, the story probably would not have lasted a week had it been allowed to break; celebrity sex scandals are a dime a dozen. Instead, the case dragged on and so did the story, particularly since as with the Ryan Giggs story, Twitter was buzzing with the identities of the couple. The really ridiculous part was that because Scotland isn't bound by English law, people near the border could literally drive across and pick up a paper giving them all the details, including the identities of the couple. Mind you, in their defence, they argued that the super-injunction wasn't to protect them, but their young children. In entirely unrelated news, Elton John and David Furnish are good fathers.
- A debate between Jerry Coyne and John Haught on the subject of compatibility between science and religion ended with the audience firmly on the side of Coyne. After this Haught refused to allow the video of the debate to be distributed. The backlash to this refusal reached far more people than would normally have been bothered to watch a one-hour academic debate.
- In 2008, the other wiki's page of the Scorpions' Virgin Killer album became one of the most popular pages on the site after the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation blacklisted it for containing "a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18", and the image was even spread across other sites as a result of the publicity. The IWF de-listed it three days later.
- In 2011, two teenagers, Austin Zehnder and Will Frey, allegedly sexually assaulted 16-year-old Louisville teenager Savannah Dietrich at a party, leading to a double dose of this. The first came in July 2012, after both boys made a plea bargain admitting to felony sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism; in exchange, the court (attempted to) forbid Savannah from identifying her attackers under threat of jail time. She later posted about the incident on Twitter, and the story was promptly snapped up and spread like wildfire across the Internet◊, with a petition in her support quickly hitting 100,000 signatures. The second dose came a month later, after the boys' lawyer attempted to silence her a ''second'' time, accusing her of "ruining at least one of their lives" and attempting to have the boys' names removed from the Internet, leading to still more backlash against Austin and Will. The entire debacle has ensured that information about the incident, which would have otherwise been completely disregarded by the media and eventually forgotten outside of the Louisville area, received significant national media attention and got an article on Wikipedia, and is now on prominent display across the Internet for everyone to read.
- An interesting variation: in 2013, shortly after Barack Obama stated that he goes skeet shooting, the White House posted a picture of the president firing a gun. Pretty standard procedure; President says a thing, White House releases a photograph that news outlets can use when reporting on the thing. However, the photograph in question came with a note that stated that the photograph was not allowed to be manipulated in any way. This caught the attention of a handful of people on the Internet, and so within a few days, there was a significant increase in pictures of Obama firing Super Soakers and ray guns while shooting at everything else. A few months later, the President himself made light of this during a press dinner and showed a photoshopping of it himself.
- In February 2013, Beyoncé's publicist ordered for some "unflattering" pictures of her that were taken during her Super Bowl performance to be "removed from the Internet." The result? Hundreds of photoshopped pictures.
- The Swedish Language Council found that more and more people were using the word "ogooglebar" - "ungoogleable" - and added it to a list of neologisms, noting that most people seemed to use it to mean "something you can't find on the Internet" rather than "something you can't find specifically through the services of Google, Inc"; after all, "google" isn't capitalized in the word. Google threatened legal action unless the Language Council removed it or let them define exactly what the word should mean in Swedish. Cue millions of Swedes who couldn't care less before taking every chance to use the word, turning it from a word used by a few to a generally accepted term.
- In April 2013, the French domestic intelligence agency DCRI attempted to have an article about a military radio station deleted from the French version of Wikipedia, first appealing directly to Wikimedia to have it removed and then, when that didn't work, pressuring a French-based administrator with "reprisals" if he didn't remove it. This, naturally, caught the Internet's attention; the article was swiftly reinstated, there's now an English version of the page, and now a lot more people know about the station's existence than if French authorities had simply left that article alone.
- IMDb was sued for $1,000,000 by an actress named Junie Hoang for publishing her date of birth. She alleged that the site facilitated age discrimination but lost the case. So now the whole world knows she was born on July 16, 1971.
- An online store called Kleargear invoked a non-disparagement clause to "fine" a woman $3,500 for breach of contract. Why? She posted a negative review on Rip Off Report because the item her husband ordered didn't turn up, which breaks a term. Only problem? That term wasn't there when she ordered it, and the review had been up for years. That's right, these people deliberately ruined a woman's credit rating because she wrote a negative review for failing to send items. Cue backlash (later followed by a lawsuit and damages of over $300,000). This Redditor sums up why this was a terrible idea:
Apockalupsis: Cool, so since the vast majority of people reading about this story have never bought anything from Kleargear, and thus never "bound" themselves to this obviously ridiculous contract, we're free to flood the Internet with negative reviews about them. Congratulations, dumb webshop owners, you've not only gotten a first-hand lesson in the Streisand Effect, you've turned one unhappy customer's review into literally the end of your business!
- Office Depot sent a DMCA takedown order to Reddit. The whole thing exploded quickly.
- Bryon "Psyguy" Beaubien from Fireball 20XL become a victim of this effect in 2014 after a long series of Tumblr-posts, such as this one. The stories detailed how Beaubien was described as being incredibly abusive towards many of his past acquaintances, including the use of death threats, harassment, infidelity, and pedophilia. That alone was bad for his reputation, but what made the matter far worse was that Beaubien responded by trying to threaten many of the people who shared their stories about him, use copyright claims to take down videos about the stories and delete as many of his posts that could confirm the stories told about him. The stories about Beaubien ended up spreading like wildfire throughout the internet as a result of his attempts to get them removed, which eventually led to the website and Beaubien vanishing from the internet altogether.
- The "Fire Duck" image, which appears to show a duck with its head on fire (the duck is actually running in front of a fire), would most likely have been completely ignored had Facebook not flagged it in 2015 for containing "graphic violence". Instead, it rapidly underwent Memetic Mutation, as Facebook users frustrated by the site's inconsistent censorship policies began relentlessly spamming the image, mocking Mark Zuckerberg's apparent dislike of it. Then in October 2016, it was discovered that Facebook had blocked the use of the phrase "Look at this fucking bird", which had become associated with the image - and people duly started spamming every possible variation of the phrase that they could think of, making it even more widespread than before.
- Frederick County, Maryland, Councilmember Kirby Delauter said on Facebook to a Frederick News-Post reporter, "Use my name again unauthorized and you'll be paying for an Attorney [sic]. Your rights stop where mine start." With such a Critical Research Failure, it's no surprise that several newspapers and associated sites mockingly corrected him. Perhaps most notable is an editorial titled "Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter" in (you guessed it) The Frederick News-Post. The memetic use of his name has received widespread coverage everywhere from NPR to The BBC.
- On February 4, 2015, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe fell down on a small flight of stairs after giving a speech. The Zimbabwe government not only denied he ever fell but ordered journalists and websites to take the photo down. Cue Mugabe's fall becoming a Memetic Mutation almost overnight, with it hitting the front page of the Pics and Photoshop Battles subreddits and inspiring numerous parodies.
- The efforts of British YouTuber Craig Dillon, who was accused of sexually assaulting at least eight men, to cover his tracks went disastrously wrong. After sending any videomaker a notice from his "solicitor" threatening to sue them into silence, it later turned out that he had posed as his own attorney, causing the accusations to simply be discussed further.
- In 2006, Brazilian model and hostess Daniela Cicarelli was filmed having sex with her boyfriend in a public beach in Spain. There were injunctions to remove the video from YouTube. Eventually, the Brazilian government had YouTube shut down for a time. Of course, this caused many people to share the video.
- After an incident in 2011 where police pepper sprayed protesting students who were already in custody on the grounds of the campus, UC Davis paid upwards of US$175,000 to try to prevent the incident from coming up in searches related to the university or its Chancellor, Linda P.B. Katehi on the Internet. They utterly failed in their goal.
- In April 2015, the Russian government criminalized the use of Russian politicians in memes. This only encouraged people outside of Russia to make more memes of Vladimir Putin, taking advantage of the fact that this law doesn't apply to them. In particular, this caused the Gay Clown Putin meme to only get bigger.
- On May 5, 2016, Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton demanded that an unflattering picture of himself be removed from Twitter. Twitter... was disinclined to acquiesce to his request.
- In the running for Spanish elections in June 2016, satirical webpage El Mundo Today (similar to The Onion) created several satirical pages about the main contending parties and candidates. The main conservative party (and current controller of the government), Partido Popular, threatened to initiate legal actions if the page referring to them was not taken down. El Mundo Today acquiesced... and promptly created another page that used Suspiciously Specific Denial to make even more fun of them and their attempts to censor free speech.
- On July 22, 2018, Defense Distributed won a lengthy court battle against the U.S. State Department regarding the posting of 3D print files. This would allow them to post these files that would allow downloaders to use their own 3D printers and/or computer-controlled machining machines to make guns at home. Within days, as many as 21 state attorneys general filed injunctions against them, seeking to prevent the release of said files. Said files were, by that time, already available online. A diligent search of torrent sites or file-sharing sites will probably yield copies of these files, making the prevention of Defense Distributed from distributing these files pointless.
- When Lebanese-American porn star Mia Khalifa filmed a scene wearing a hijab, she was sent death threats by the terrorist organization ISIS. The resulting media exposure increased her profile considerably, helping to make her the most-viewed star on certain websites.
- On Twitter, the phrase "[Unpopular person or group] doesn't want you to see this image/tweet this hashtag. So please don't tweet/retweet it, because that would really annoy them" is such a guaranteed signal-booster that it's been known to get used even if the unpopular person or group has expressed no such opinion.
- In February 2019, PETA, already infamous in their own rights for their numerous actions in the past, decided to publicly bash the memories of the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, effectively blaming him for his own death and telling people to bury his memory. The internet exploded on them for this and caused a resurgence in Irwin's popularity that hadn't been seen since shortly after he passed away, while bringing the Irwin family back into the public eye with the show that his wife and children were recording and airing.
- Twitter themselves got hit with this when people noticed that the site had a rule stating not to anthropomorphize the bird that is their logo. Cue the Furry Fandom artists creating hundreds of pictures of TweetFur, the Self-Fanservice-based anthro bird-girl version of the Twitter bird.
- March 2019, Congressional Representative Devin Nunes (CA-22) filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter and several accounts that he claimed were spreading libel and false statements. One such account was Devin Nunes' cow (@DevinCow), a purely satirical account ribbing Nunes for bragging about his family's dairy farming roots, when his family actually moved their farming operations from California to Iowa in 2006. Prior to the lawsuit, it had around 1,200 followers but now has over 600k followers. This has long exceeded Nunes verified accounts follower count and has roughly half a million more followers than Nunes had voters in his last reelection in 2018. This is also not the first time Nunes has done something like this. In 2018 he sued his home-town papers parent company, McClatchy, for running a story about how a winery that he and his siblings own a minority stake in was being sued by a woman who says she was working an event they did on a yacht where she says she got sexually harassed. She claimed that the event was really a cocaine-fueled orgy with underage prostitutes. The paper never said he knew anything about it or that he had been there, just that his family were stakeholders but now everyone knows a business in which theyre investors is accused of partaking in a cocaine-fueled orgy on a yacht with sex trafficked children.
- In April 2019, Brazil's Supreme Court ordered online magazine Crusoé to take down a report revealing that its president was mentioned in the plea bargain of a businessman convicted in a bribery scandal. Of course, this drew widespread media coverage and heavy criticism. They had to back down a few days later.
- In August 2019, a story about an outbreak of bedbugs in The New York Times newsroom went viral on Twitter. One of the many snarky quips about it came from college professor Dave Karpf, who tweeted "The bedbugs are a metaphor. The bedbugs are Bret Stephens," referring to one of the Times' resident right-wing opinion columnists. The tweet went unnoticed. Until Karpf revealed that he got an e-mail from Stephens acting offended that he called him a "bedbug" and even dared him to say to his face in front of his family. Not only did he send it to Karpf, but his provost (boss) too. This led to everyone referring to Stephens as a bedbug, to the point that he deactivated his Twitter and cried about it on TV. Karpf's original tweet skyrockted from 0 retweets to over 3000. And finally Donald Trump used the controversy to bash Stephens, who had been highly critical of him in the past.
- What started as Xi Jinping and Barack Obama's meeting in 2013 being compared to a meeting of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger eventually evolved into the President of China being compared to the yellow teddy bear for his various actions. As the Communist Party of China wanted their leader to be taken 100% seriously, this eventually lead to the meme being censored on the Chinese internet in 2017. To internet users of other countries where jokes are a major part of political discussion, this came off as Xi Jinping being thin-skinned and fueled memers to cause an explosion of content for what was once a minor meme. The 2019 Hong Kong protests and their associated October 2019 controversies linked to the NBA apology, the Blizzard Boycott and the mention of the banning in the South Park episode "Band in China" only fanned the meme's flames further two years later.note
- Sadly this meme resulted in the Taiwanese indie horror game Devotion losing its publishing license in China, and was pulled from Steam after it was review bombed by more nationalistic Chinese gamers.
- During the 2020 Presidential election, there was a minor but recurring controversy that the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, may have used his influence as Vice President to try and help his son Hunter with legal issues in Ukraine. When the New York Post came out with apparent evidence that Biden had lied about the issue, Facebook and Twitter both made it so that users couldn't share the article, even temporarily locking the White House Press Secretary's account when she mentioned the issue. Naturally, this led to many more posts about how people couldn't post the article, but also led to renewed accusations that Big Tech companies censor and manipulate information to try and influence politics. However the New York Post article also received greater scrutiny as a result of the exposure, with many media analysts concluding that it is possible fake news.
- The RIAA demanded the take down youtube-dl, a popular program for downloading videos. The code was hosted on Github and the news became viral. People not knowing of the program's existence has now started looking for it outside of Github while other re-uploaded it in new repos.
- Twitch ended up inciting multiple instances of the Streisand Effect in late 2020 by banning the words "simp" and "incel", which only drove streamers and viewers to say the words more often. This happened again in January 2021 when it was announced that the memetic PogChamp emote would be removed (effective immediately), leading people to simply make greater use of the very large number of existing "Pog" variants between streamers' subscription emotes and the FrankerFaceZ and BetterTwitchTV variations.
- At a gathering of animators and animation personalities, Rubber Onion co-host Stephen Brooks snapped a particularly unflattering photo of John Kricfalusi looking disheveled and clammy-skinned. Kricfalusi outright demanded that Brooks not share any photos of him without his expressed permission, despite Brooks being the event's hired photographer. In turn, Brooks, who was already not fond of Kricfalusi, used the photo as the thumbnail for the episode of his podcast discussing Kricfalusi's then-recent statutory rape allegations, complete with a subtitle saying "John K. told me not to take his picture without his consent."
- Suing Private Eye for libel never does anyone any good. All it does is draw out the Eye's story and attract the attention of other news sources. Even if you win, no one has enough faith in British libel law (or the Eye's ability to defend a case) to believe that this means it isn't true.
- Protests against depictions of Muhammad in print media have had this effect in Western society:
- In 2005, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a series of editorial cartoons depicting Muhammad, which caused deadly riots and protests. In response, other Western publications also ran the cartoons as a defense of free speech.
- In 2015, the French magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked by terrorists in response to repeated depictions of Muhammad. Before the attack, the magazine was virtually unknown outside of France, as it only managed to sell about 30,000 copies and was sliding into bankruptcy. For their next issue, demand caused Charlie Hebdo to print seven million copies, and #JeSuisCharlie (French for "I am Charlie") trended worldwide as a show of solidarity. Furthermore, the attacks sparked massive support for the publication and caused the offending cartoons to be seen worldwide across the Internet.
- Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff details what he heard and saw spending a year in the Donald Trump White House. People weren't too interested in it, but when Trump's lawyers tried putting out a cease & desist order on it, the publisher decided to move up the release date to midnight the day after the order was issued. Unsurprisingly, the book sold out in stores across the country, launching to the top of the best-sellers list.
- There is a real chance that if it weren't for Patricia Pulling and her campaign against Dungeons & Dragons, the game would have remained a niche market and probably never would have become the geekdom rite of passage it has become. This also had a run in 1980 with the disappearance of James Egbert III, a young man who played the game. The detective assigned to Egbert's disappearance wrote a book about it, suggesting the game had something to do with Egbert going missing. It didn't, and Egbert was eventually found alive and unhurt. Still, Dungeons and Dragons went from grossing $2.3 million in 1979 to $8.7 million in 1980, largely as a result of all the negative press denouncing it as "Satanic propaganda"; many people ended up playing it just to see what all the fuss was about.
- In September 2018, ApostleO, a user on reddit, criticized the performance and user interface of the digital tabletop site Roll20, and was then banned by the moderator NolanT from the Roll20 subreddit under assumed sock-puppetry, since they had a name similar to another banned user, ApostleOfTruth. Since ApostleO knew they weren't the same person as ApostleOfTruth, they dug deeper into the issue. ApostleO found that not only were the two users' writing styles not similar at all, the other banned user was banned for criticizing the Roll20 staff's moderation as well. When ApostleO confronted Roll20 about it, they were told by NolanT that even though the two banned users' IPs didn't match, the ban would not be lifted. ApostleO reported what happened on reddit, which reached Reddit's front page. It revealed that Roll20 not only censored any form of criticism towards them, they also violated Reddit's policy of people modding subreddits of a company they are employed by, as NolanT was not just an affiliated mod, but one of Roll20's co-founders. This led to other users declaring that they would also cancel their subscription and/or bad-mouth Roll20 from now on. NolanT's response only made things worse; at one time, NolanT's response was the second-most downvoted comment in the history of Reddit.
- Any time there is an unintentional announcement of a future video game, a leak of any kind concerning a game in development, or a game that was released before the street date, expect the affected publisher to start using cease and desist letters, copyright takedowns or even legal action against the leakers. This results in more attention for the upcoming or soon to be released game(s) thanks to people mirroring the taken down content all over the Internet. For example, IGN took down a video that inadvertently revealed the release date for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain a day early.
- Eurogamer writer Robert Florence posted an article about how video game journalists seem to be indistinguishable from public relations, which included some tweets from Lauren Wainwright regarding her suspicious enthusiasm towards Tomb Raider (2013) and her defending a journalist's right to win a free PlayStation 3 by advertising on Twitter. Instead of writing a rebuttal or simply ignoring the article, Wainwright threatened legal action for libel against Eurogamer, causing Eurogamer to remove the tweets from Florence's article, and Florence to resign soon afterwards. The story spread like wildfire, and it also dug out more suspicious information, such as Wainwright's freelance employment with Square Enix, the publisher of Tomb Raider. Wainwright tried to do damage control by insisting that no legal threats were made and even removed Square Enix from her resume, but screencaps of her unaltered resume and Florence's original article are mirrored everywhere.
- At E3 2013, Geoff Keighley interviewed Don Mattrick (the then-President of Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft) about the Xbox One. When asked about the console's then-mandatory Internet connection, Mattrick said that if fans didn't like it, they should buy an Xbox 360 instead. Microsoft immediately attempted to take down every video related to the interview, but news of it had already spread.
- The Cynical Brit:
- He did a first impression video for a game titled Day One: Garry's Incident. Midway through the video, he stated that the game had a lot of potential, but was poorly executed. By the end of the video, however, he'd seen and experienced so many bad things about the game that he ended up heavily panning it. The developer, Wild Games Studio, didn't like his criticism. As a result, they used YouTube's infamous copyright takedown feature to remove the video, later claiming that "TotalBiscuit has no right to make advertising revenues with our license". This caused the Brit to post a follow-up video calling them out for the abuse and gave hard evidence that debunked their claims. He also took the opportunity to point out instances of other, smaller channels being trampled on via the Copyright system (e.g. the Sega incident). The original video is back up on the Brit's channel, and all the developer did was further increase their infamy, as people now not only know that their game sucks, but also that they're Sore Losers about it. The view counts on these videos:
- The first impression (before removal): 150 thousand.
- The first impression (after its restoration): over 1 million.
- The video about the removal: over 5 million and counting.
- It happened again. This time, it involved the developer of Guise of the Wolf. After he made two videos displaying how horribly bug-ridden and poorly designed the game is, the developer also tried to use the Copyright Notice feature to not only remove the video but also erase the Brit's channel, with such claims as "...Our company is a lot bigger then your little youtube channel." This ended about as well for them as it did for the developer of Day One: Garry's Incident.
- He did a first impression video for a game titled Day One: Garry's Incident. Midway through the video, he stated that the game had a lot of potential, but was poorly executed. By the end of the video, however, he'd seen and experienced so many bad things about the game that he ended up heavily panning it. The developer, Wild Games Studio, didn't like his criticism. As a result, they used YouTube's infamous copyright takedown feature to remove the video, later claiming that "TotalBiscuit has no right to make advertising revenues with our license". This caused the Brit to post a follow-up video calling them out for the abuse and gave hard evidence that debunked their claims. He also took the opportunity to point out instances of other, smaller channels being trampled on via the Copyright system (e.g. the Sega incident). The original video is back up on the Brit's channel, and all the developer did was further increase their infamy, as people now not only know that their game sucks, but also that they're Sore Losers about it. The view counts on these videos:
- Just after the release of Beyond: Two Souls, a user who owned a debug PlayStation 3note discovered a sequence involving the main character Jodie, played by Elliot Page, taking a shower with a fully nude and anatomically correct in-game model that appears in full view several times. The user uploaded pictures and videos of this to the Internet, which initially only got a modest number of views. It wasn't until Sony attempted to have the pictures scrubbed that interest in the material skyrocketed, and it was quickly mirrored on many websites. For a long time, "beyond two souls shower" was the second suggestion that would pop up if someone did a Google search on the title. It doesn't help that Page himself threatened legal action against Sony for producing the material of him for the game, and stated in leaked emails from the 2015 Sony hack that he had never participated in a full-body scan for the game.
- In a Jimquisition episode covering Earth: Year 2066, Jim Sterling posted evidence of the game developer that tried to remove anything negative that was posted about the game, including his own replies to criticisms, in the Steam community hub. Sterling pointed out that such actions would only cause people to post their impressions of the early access game elsewhere for all to see. Not surprisingly, this sort of thing happens quite often for many games.
- Taken to another level when Sterling did a cold/blind/first playthrough of The Slaughtering Grounds. He wasn't impressed by the game's bugs, bad design, and lack of direction. The developer behind the game, Digital Homicide, took the impressions as a massive attack towards his work, retaliating by reposting Sterling's video with a bunch of text on top of it that mocked him. Sterling found the entire thing hilarious, and responded by reposting the video containing the developer's response with his own commentary. The developer then posted another video of the re-repost where he just blatantly attacks Sterling. People got wind of the tantrum and started to criticize the developer on the Steam forums, which got them swiftly banned by the developer. To top it all off, the developers issued a copyright strike against Sterling, which got his first impressions video taken down. While Sterling's original video was down for a few weeks, he was successful in his counterclaim and his video was restored. To rub salt in the wound, Sterling dedicated his victory to playing the game for 2 hours to show everyone just how bad it was, and to stick it to the developer who said Sterling wasn't allowed to critique the game unless he played longer.
- Digital Homicide, the same developers behind The Slaughtering Grounds, made another game called Deadly Profits, which was naturally full of bugs and was once on Steam's early access for $25. Sterling did a squirty play of it and wasn't impressed by the game. Knowing that people would warn others on the Steam forums about the game's shoddiness, Digital Homicide purged the forums of any "negative" threads and swiftly banned anyone that had anything bad to say about the game or if they even mentioned Sterling at all. Obviously, this only helped spread the word about the game's shoddiness and damaged the company's reputation faster.
Furthermore, Digital Homicide then tried to sue Sterling and one hundred anonymous Steam users over the matter. When they tried to get a subpoena from Valve to get the identities of those Steam users, Digital Homicide had all their games removed from Steam and got blacklisted for acting aggressive and hostile towards their customers. Despite losing so much money that they had to file for bankruptcy, Digital Homicide still tried to drag out the lawsuit against Sterling. Eventually, Sterling's lawyer gave an ultimatum; drop the case and everyone would pay their own legal fees, or Digital Homicide would get their asses handed to them in court. Digital Homicide agreed and the case was officially dismissed, ending the year-long drama caused by two men who couldn't handle criticism from one guy.
- Digpex Games, the sole developer behind Skate Man: Intense Rescue, issued a copyright strike against Sterling after he had posted his impressions of the developer's trailer for the game that consisted of horrible ideas, laughable execution, and a frame rate that was in the single digits. Unlike Digital Homicide, Digpex Games seemingly made the greenlight trailer to bait Sterling out just so the developer could "teach him a lesson" because it saw how Sterling treated other indie developers in the past and couldn't stand it. Naturally, this tactic didn't work and it created the opposite effect; Sterling got even more famous while Digpex Games were now known for being sour grapes over how he critiques things.
- The takedowns got so out of hand that at one point, a developer tried to claim a trademark infringement on Sterling's impressions with a bad airport simulator game. Naturally, Sterling points out how the developer does not know what a trademark is.
- This happens to Sterling so often that he wrote an article called Another Monday, Another Copyright Claim, pointing out that developers abusing ContentID in an attempt to stifle criticism has become practically normal.
- In April 2017, Sterling made a video criticizing Atlus for their heavy-handed warning against streaming Persona 5, arguing that their attempts to suppress footage of the game, ostensibly for the purpose of avoiding spoilers, had just encouraged fans to leak footage and major spoilers all over the Internet in retaliation.
- Review embargoes tend to become this whenever a game studio knows their product isn't up to snuff and enforce an embargo on reviewers so the studio can cash in on consumers swayed by the hype without them knowing about the issues. In practice, it hardly ever works out that way. For example, Assassin's Creed: Unity had an unprecedented review embargo that ended twelve hours after the game's release. All in all, a) the game was a buggy mess, and b) the primary topic of conversation was not the game itself but the absurd and abusive embargo.
- In April 2015, Super Bunnyhop made a video concerning Konami based on the information that he was told about the company.note Konami didn't like this, so they attempted to use YouTube's copyright claims system to have the video removed. They briefly succeeded by claiming about 29 seconds of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance footage used in the video. However, the video was restored by YouTube because Konami didn't properly use the copyright takedown.note Super Bunnyhop then made a follow-up video. Unlike most examples, he used the opportunity to point out that the controversy was actually beneficial for everybody, including Konami.
- When Hatred first appeared on Steam Greenlight, it was taken down after a short period of time. At the time it was taken down, the game was ranked #7 on the Greenlight board. After Hatred was placed back on Greenlight, it was ranked #1 in only a few hours. More than a few people concluded from the get-go that the devs were banking on this and similar to drum up free publicity for a mediocre, cheaply made game that would have been ignored otherwise.
- No Man's Sky suffered a massive bout of this. After months of publicity, interviews, and appearances by Hello Games founder Sean Murray talking about what players could expect from the game, a Reddit user was able to purchase an early copy of the game from Ebay and posted his findings on the site. The ensuing topic caused a meltdown on Reddit and many other enthusiast forums due to claims that a number of features talked up pre-release were either crippled or non-existent, along with a No Ending that's followed by the chance to start a new galaxy. Many fans were upset over this, but Murray and other Hello Games reps stated that they should ignore the findings and that it wasn't the real deal.note Even more so, Sony ended up forcing YouTube to take down a video from Rooster Teeth's "The Know" news channel talking about the findings, which two of the many hosts called out the company for, when they found out how they did it. The resulting backlash from this duplicity caused scores of YouTubers to release rant videos criticizing the game and its developer in response. It got so bad that Steam reportedly took the near-unprecedented step of allowing its users to refund the game, regardless of playtime.note Sony also followed suit soon afterwards, and it is estimated that the PC version of the game lost 90% of its player base in only two weeks, and Steam at one point had only a 12% rating for the game. It appeared that the backlash eclipsed the game itself at the time. Patches and updates have subsequently increased this score, and by the end of 2017, however, the reviews of it on Steam were "Mostly Positive".
- As aforementioned, when Persona 5 was released in North America, Atlus disabled the screen capture and sharing feature on the PlayStation 4. They also released a set of strict guidelines that warned YouTubers not to show any content past the in-game date of July 7th. Failure to heed the guidelines would have Atlus claim the offending videos via content ID or issue copyright takedowns to suspend or even terminate the offending channel. According to Atlus, all of this was done in the name of avoiding spoilers. Predictably, many fans began posting spoilers out of spite, including using bots on Twitter to post spoilers en masse, and the majority of them used actual cameras and capture devices to create their own screenshots, which defeated Atlus' purpose. What makes the event even stranger is that the Japanese version of the game had been released several months prior, which gave fans plenty of time to see anything they wanted to about the game. Finally, Atlus stating not to post anything beyond certain in-game dates spoiled the fact that something big would happen on those dates. Eventually, the massive backlash to their move caused them to relent, pushing back the streaming ban up until November 19 in-game.
- After Konami infamously cancelled Silent Hills, they went one step further by completely delisting P.T. from the PlayStation Store, meaning you can't play it even if you paid for it, as part of their efforts to wipe out their primary IPs and switch from making games to making money in other businesses. Naturally, their efforts to eliminate the game only succeeded in elevating it from the status of "cool horror demo" to "the sacred Holy Grail of video gaming" practically overnight, with PS4s that had the demo saved on their memory selling online for thousands of dollars in cash. Dozens of tutorials showing how to re-download the game immediately sprung up around the internet overnight, and dedicated fans devoted their efforts to keep the spirit of the game alive by any means necessary, including creating games with a similar atmosphere and story like Allison Road, trying to copy the file from consoles that had it saved, and a Fan Remake.
- Blizzard Entertainment:
- At BlizzCon 2018, Blizzard announced Diablo Immortal, which was not met well at all by fans there, as it was a mobile phone game announced at the end of multiple PC games being announced on top of being the only Diablo-related thing to be announced in years since Diablo III, among several other reasons. During the Q&A session, one attendee asked if the game was coming to PC; when told that it wasn't, the audience loudly booed. This prompted the Blizzard rep onstage to reply with a baffled (and baffling) "Do you guys not have phones?" Blizzard then tried to remove uploads of that part of the stream, as well as one with another attendee asking if the game was an "out-of-season April Fools' joke" (that the crowd audibly jeers and laughs at); and even went to remove and re-upload the announcement trailer, which had garnered over 300,000 dislikes and had numerous comments vilifying the game. It didn't help, and video game news sites reporting on the backlash caused it to spread like wildfire.
- In 2019, Blizzard suspended a Hearthstone player/streamer, withheld his prize money and also suspended his fellow commentators all because the player in question made a political statement about China's treatment of Hong Kong's citizens. Not long after that, Blizzard fans retaliated by trying to screw over Blizzard's relationship with China by trying to turn Overwatch character Mei, who is Chinese herself, into a Movement Mascot for the Hong Kong protests, in the hopes that A.) Chinese players would spread them, and B.) the Chinese government would take notice. This caused Blizzard to yank statues of Mei from their store in an attempt to stop the memes from spreading. On top of that, the event that was planned to celebrate the Switch release of Overwatch at the Nintendo World Store was cancelled, and many suspect it was Nintendo's decision to try to distance itself from Blizzard's controversies.
- During Mashiro Sakurai's presentation on Terry Bogard's DLC inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Sakurai mentioned that Ms. Fanservice Mai Shiranui would not be appearing as a background character because it would raise the CERO/ESRB ratings, adding "Smash Bros. is for good boys and girls of many different ages".note This caused many fans who were unfamiliar with Mai to look her up, and a massive outpour of fan art involving her rejection and her stripperiffic design soon followed on Twitter. Some have even begun to request her as a fighter in spite of the rejection.
- In April 2020, The Last of Us Part II suffered a huge Content Leak when plot details were revealed on the internet, including cutscenes. Naughty Dog and Sony responded by quickly removing spoilers from YouTube and other websites. This was considered acceptable by most fans at first, but these fans changed their minds after Naughty Dog and Sony began taking the censorship Up to Eleven; the two companies also began sending DMCA takedown notices to posts that were complaining about the leaked plot details, even if the poster only talked vaguely about the game rather than specify story beats. Fans were angry, arguing that the takedowns were becoming excessive. As a result, fans created even more posts and videos talking about the game's spoilers out of protest, completely undoing what Naughty Dog and Sony were trying to achieve.
- Penny Arcade:
- Their legal run-in with American Greetings over a Strawberry Shortcake parody image resulted in the image being spread across the Internet on such a wide basis that it's very easy to find the image nowadays, even though it's no longer on the Penny Arcade site. To this day, Archive Bingers are taking note of AG's overly-protective legal department. Given the near-universal demographic and high fungibility of the greeting card industry, it's safe to say that they're still losing the occasional sale to it.
- Not to mention the Ocean Marketing debacle: Paul Christoforo, the president of a PR and distribution firm named Ocean Marketing, sent unkind, unprofessional, and terribly written emails out to several customers of N-Control, a company that manufactures and sells the Avenger Controller, a modified PS3 controller designed with folks with fine motor impairment in mind. Paul made unsubstantiated claims of how soon the controllers would ship out, lowered the price to attract new customers while not even offering the customers who would be waiting for several more weeks a ten percent compensatory discount, eventually started addressing disgruntled customers by telling them their business in a condescending tone, threatened to cancel an order placed by at least one customer and sell the controllers on eBay himself, and went around claiming to know head editors at gaming news blogs like IGN and Kotaku, to try to deflect complaints by making himself seem like an important figure. Dave, one customer unlucky enough to have dealt with him, shared the series of email correspondence with Gabe himself, who stepped in to tell Paul that Ocean Marketing would not be welcome at PAX any longer — something Paul was initially disbelieving of, since he had no idea who he was talking to, at first. He made an about-face when he realized just how tremendous his mistake was, but by the time he connected the dots, it was already too late. That one series of emails set off a chain reaction that effectively killed Ocean Marketing and, with it, Paul's career. As the dust began settling, it became obvious Paul wasn't genuinely sorry for how he behaved — he was just sorry he got caught lying to, verbally abusing, and cheating N-Control's customers.
- Christian Weston Chandler, creator of Sonichu, was initially just a random comic artist with big, yet child-like, dreams. The effect kicked in after a random encounter with a member of 4chan led to the creation of an Encyclopedia Dramatica page about him. His attempts to get rid of it, and the incidents it caused on the Internet and in real life, would lead to more people to find out more about this man and his creation. And a whole lot more, but that's a completely different story.
- David Gonterman's run-ins with the Streisand Effect date back to about 1995-1998. Initially an unexceptional fanfiction writer and comic artist with enough weirdness to attract a number of MSTs, he invoked the effect when he started throwing public tantrums over any criticism and then went on a crusade to get all his works deleted from the Internet. A number of websites dedicated to archiving his works popped up in response. On the flip side, were it not for this effect, he would never have achieved the Z-list cult celebrity status he enjoys today.
- Channel Awesome's The Nostalgia Critic reviewed Tommy Wiseau's magnum opus The Room, one of many, many films he has torn to shreds on his site. (Ironically, the Critic was far nicer to the film than many of his other reviews and many of his contemporaries. The Critic actually encouraged his viewers to see it for themselves, albeit in a Bile Fascination kind of way. But it was better than many other reviewers telling people to avoid the film at all costs). Then, Critic got hit with a threat of a lawsuit by theroommovie.com stating that his review constituted a copyright violation, despite the fact that fair use policy covers reviews of original material. In response, he pulled the review, but put up in its place an "episode" of "The Tommy Wiseau Show" which mocked the stuffing out of Wiseau himself and the guy who runs the theroommovie.comnote . This brought way more negative publicity to the movie, the website, and the names behind it than any review ever could have. After a short while, the review was allowed to be put back up. The "Tommy Wiseau Show" sketch is also still up.
- At first, Derek Savage appeared to calmly accept criticism for his film Cool Cat Saves the Kids, even making a Re-Cut of the film after viewing the review of it by Your Movie Sucks. However, out of nowhere in November 2015, Savage started filing false DMCA claims to take down reviews of the movie (most notably those done by Bobsheaux and I Hate Everything), and even harassing reviewers via e-mail. When Alex of IHE came clean about what was going on, the backlash was immediate and intense, especially since Savage's film is all about how bullying is bad, and yet he was bullying people to take down criticism of his film. Soon afterwards, mirrors of said reviews quickly began popping up, and the major controversy that occurred over it all helped deal a major blow to Savage's reputation.
- On April 27, 2013, a Journal Roleplayer created a journal with the intent on RPing a character from The Slutcracker, a sex-filled parody of The Nutcracker. The very first post of the testing journal, Dear Mum, was made by Vanessa White, the creator of The Slutcracker, who demanded in public that the pictures she used for the journal and the journal itself be removed or face legal action, leaving the poor fan to quickly remove everything. Other RPers took White to task over this, which ultimately led to her deleting her account.
- Pewdiepie has done quite a few of these by accident and apologized about them, but the biggest one is the entire "YouTube Drama" fiasco in which he points out that drama needs to stop because it affects everybody by causing them to be on the edge of their seats. His main point, however, is about the people who use the mob mentality as a way to police a YouTuber to attack and ruin someone's life. Unfortunately, people kind of latched on the drama part and barely anybody briefly touched upon his main point. Felix has admitted that he kind of jumped the gun on this one as he didn't really explain his main point properly.
- Maddox, in one article about people banning his website for arbitrary reasons, pointed out that there was a group called "Mothers Against Maddox" that had been going on for over a year trying to get his website taken down. In a bout of intentional irony, he signed their petition, knowing fully well that it wouldn't change anything. Within 24 hours of him posting the article, their petition jumped from 80 signatures to 9,200. Given that his website is still up, it seems that they didn't accomplish anything even with the additional support.
- Feminist Frequency: People complaining about the videos brought more attention to what was otherwise a small video series covering widely available discussions.
- Discussed on Internet Historian a few times, since he covers the history of Internet trends.
- Shia LeBeouf and his supporters attempts to keep 4chan trolls from interfering with the "He Will Not Divide Us" art piece only attracted the trolls more. LeBeouf's escalating attempts to stop his livestreamed work from getting defaced or mocked saw him move it from a public New York area to an undisclosed location in North America (found by 4chan within two days to be in Greenville, Tennessee), to a blank white room somewhere in the world (found to be London, England within four hours). The effect eventually petered out once the project left the United States, and continued degrading to the point there's barely any difference between watching the livestream and looking at a .jpg of the phrase, when it became too boring for 4chan to further mess with it, with only a few dedicated trolls keeping an eye on it.
- CNN threatening to reveal the personal information of the guy who made the Trump wrestling CNN meme unless he deleted everything only angered the internet. They decided to make more anti-CNN memes than CNN could ever hope to take down. Then they started to rate the CNN app one star, and turn public TVs off CNN with universal remotes (making ratings go down) when CNN tried anyway. The Historian even describes the events as CNN "smashing one bee and angering the hive".
- Planking spread like an epidemic after threatening to die off after the media, governments, police, and places of work started to discourage it. Appropriately, the trend died when the Prime Minister of New Zealand posted a picture of his son planking, thus signifying official approval and immediately discrediting it.
- Bethesda trying to quiet negative reviews of Fallout 76 on its forum caused dissatisfied customers to hijack any part of the internet they could to decry the game.
- And to bring it full circle, some people try to stop the IH's digging... which only results in him telling the internet promptly and invites more investigation. And he always keeps pressing on anyway.
- Mike Matei, co-producer of The Angry Video Game Nerd, has a habit of making sockpuppet accounts to defend himself, banning people from the AVGN subreddit who mention past incidents or call him out, and removing mods who don't agree with him. Thanks to these removals, AVGN fans know that Matei's lying about the size of his genitals, his horrible Minecrap video, his (now-deleted) livestream where he was falling-down drunk, his insultingly racist and insultingly unfunny comics (with such humor as "'my pussy smells like fish' is a thinking man's joke"), and the fact that he stiffed an old woman over a homemade Klingon costume. All Matei needed to do was leave well enough alone after these incidents, and they probably would have been downplayed or forgotten.
- With regard to the embarrassing videos, Matei released the joke video "Minecraft With Gadget" as a piece of filler while working on Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie. It got negative reviews, so much so that Matei deleted the video and consecutively took down re-uploads of it ever since its release, which only made people more interested in seeing it. This only spread further after the video became a meme thanks to Oney Plays and SiIvaGunner, resulting in more and more people reuploading it and making memes of it. While Matei is still clearly ashamed of the video, he eventually re-uploaded it himself in May 2020, long after its memetic status had died down a bit.
- When Canadian YouTuber Ghostlyrich attempted to replace his defective Samsung Galaxy S4 phone, citing its battery had a defect which fried his charger and posed a fire hazard, the company asked for evidence it actually was one, so he gave it to them. They offered to replace the phone as long as he accepted their terms... which, among other things, egregiously told him to delete the video and surrender any future claims about the product. Yes, Samsung tried to suppress the fact that their phone posed the risk of starting fires. Ghostlyrich responded by making the terms public in a video that would gain five times as many views as the first originally did, resulting in the whole world knowing the ridiculous terms one has to accept in order to simply replace their defective phones, and more reports of the same thing which only spread the word further. Years later, Samsung was especially bitten in the ass when they had to recall and discontinue the Galaxy Note 7 for the same exact reason, only worse.
- Sky Williams offers a defied example. One of the playlists on Sky's channel is titled "BDSM Project." All of the videos in the playlist have been deleted, but Sky explained in another video that he kept the playlist on his channel because someone had already seen it and it would look worse to try to hide the playlist. Moreover, YouTube deleted the videos "for violating YouTube's policy on spam, deceptive practices, and scams." Because Sky left the playlist up, and because he explains it later, the playlist isn't all that noteworthy — thus defying the Streisand Effect.
- In September 2018, The Verge posted a guide on their YouTube channel for building a high-end custom gaming PC. The entire debacle has been a case study in the Streisand effect essentially from the start. The video was widely criticized by PC enthusiasts and the tech community at large for its many glaring mistakes, baffling choices of both parts and building process choices, and manipulative editing. The latter is especially problematic because potential first-time PC builders might use the video as a guide, confusing themselves at best and damaging their parts at worst. Many major tech YouTubers, such as Bitwit, Paul's Hardware, ReviewTechUSA, and others made reaction videos on their own channels that broke down each of The Verge's mistakes or parodies of the original video. The Verge disabled comments and likes on their video - a red flag in its own right - before ultimately taking the video down. Had they stopped with that, the original video probably would have been forgotten about with time. But they didn't stop with that. In February 2019, Vox Media (who owns The Verge) suddenly started issuing copyright takedowns on these criticism and parody videos, a few days after The Verge published an article about the rampant abuse of copyright takedowns on YouTube to suppress valid criticism and opposing viewpoints. The PC community came roaring back, with nearly every tech YouTuber and publication calling them out on it, finding even more errors that were pointed out the first time around, and reuploading the original video in droves. Each of The Verge's subsequent attempts at damage control has only dug them deeper in trouble, and all the while they haven't once apologized or addressed the fact that their original video was misleading.
- Discussed in the article "How to Handle Criticism" on Fimfiction.Net. The article's author advises to not respond to negative criticism or attempt to delete comments that are trying to give Constructive Criticism on one's stories. The reason behind it is that people who weren't interested in your story are going to be attracted to all the drama surrounding it, and the story will be more known for being Flame Bait than whatever it was originally being criticized for.
Commenters mobilize. Friends arrive to support friends. Review-blogs are made, publicizing the scandal further. Eventually the story itself becomes irrelevant to the controversy. The comments section is a wasteland of commenters battling with the author. The story has accumulated dozens more downvotes overnight. Eventually the author either concedes the point, or continues on stubbornly and descends into infamy, their story's reputation a shattered hulk.
- In June 2020, video game blog One Angry Gamer composed a list called "Traitors to America", written by site founder William "Billy D" Usher. The list was used to show corporations and people that had voiced support for the African-American rights group Black Lives Matter, after the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020 caused massive protests against systemic racism and a surge of support for Black Lives Matter across the United States. In response, many internet personalities on the "Traitors" list (like ProZD) mocked Billy D, causing them to speak up about Black Lives Matter even more than they already were. In fact, many non-creators thanked him for compiling a list of people to support, and later mirrored it after he took it down. Billy D ended up being dumbfounded when the list proved to have the opposite effect he wanted, as there was now more support for Black Lives Matter and its cause than before the list was made.
- Roko's Basilisk is a thought experiment that translates the Christian concept of eternal punishment in Hell into an AI context, and essentially condemns people to this theoretical AI Hell if they read Roko's Basilisk. It gained much of its early fame from the fact that when it was first posted on the website LessWrong, the webmaster flatly banned any discussion of it on the basis that even seeing it was emotionally traumatising some of their readers.
- One of the reasons why My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic had such a large Periphery Demographic was due to a couple of articles that were written during Season 1 of the series. One of the articles was filled with anger towards series director Lauren Faust for selling out, incensed that someone who worked on other series like The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends would make a Merchandise-Driven series like My Little Pony. The other article even went as far as accusing the series of being "homophobic, smarts-shaming and racist" over incredibly ridiculous things. For example, one of the claims in the article was that Lovable Jock Rainbow Dash was promoting the "butch lesbian" stereotype because the character had a rainbow-colored mane. The vitriolic tone of these articles made readers curious as to what it was about Friendship Is Magic that made the articles' writers so mad. When readers tuned into the series, they liked what they saw and stuck around, helping to create the "brony" phenomenon.
- South Park:
It was Tom Cruise! Who else would it be? It was Tom Cruise! And it was just stupid of Tom Cruise and Viacom, because it made more people see the episode.
- Many years earlier, Barbra Streisand herself publicly criticized her depiction as a kaiju in the Season 1 episode "Mecha-Streisand." This complaint helped South Park get the mainstream's attention, and in appreciation of her efforts to make South Park a more popular show, Streisand would subsequently appear, without her permission, in later episodes depicted in a harshly negative light, like "Spookyfish" (where images of Streisand lined the corners of the screen and is referred to as "Spookyvision") and The Movie (where her very name is the coup de grace of a swear string weaponized against Saddam Hussein by Cartman during the climax). And, like the above, Mecha-Streisand would be a central part of the "200" and "201" two-parter as the most physically powerful celebrity South Park has mocked, as well as one of the first.
- In a 2011 interview with The New York Times Magazine, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the co-creators of South Park, were asked if they ever found out whether or not Tom Cruise was responsible for pressuring Viacom into not rebroadcasting the episode "Trapped in the Closet" despite his denial. This was Stone's response:
- Invoked by Gravity Falls' Alex Hirsch, a notorious Trolling Creator. He made a fake screenshot which seemingly reveals the identity of the Author, a driving mystery through the first 3/4 of the show. After uploading it to 4chan, he then posted an angry tweet about the "leak," which he then deleted, all to make his Red Herring seem more believable.