About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

5 U. Balt. J. Media L. & Ethics 4 (2016)
Practical Transparency: How Journalists Should Approach Digital Shaming and the Streisand Effect

handle is hein.journals/ubjmleth5 and id is 103 raw text is: 




                          PRACTICAL TRANSPARENCY:
               How JOURNALISTS SHOULD APPROACH DIGITAL
                   SHAMING AND THE STREISAND EFFECT


                              DAXTON R. CHIP STEWART*
                                   KRISTIE BUNTON**


            What has become known in Internet culture as the Streisand Effect
            occurs when a person seeks to minimize the harm of something
            posted online through censorious legal threats, which then backfire,
            leading to even more scrutiny and attention for the harmful
            post. Such situations raise legal concerns and ethical obligations for
            journalists when they encounter people seeking to minimize online
            embarrassment and exposure, in particular when the people seeking
            privacy inflame their situation, inadvertently or otherwise, by
            making legal threats. After examining the narrow legal options
            available through gag orders and privacy torts, the authors propose
            the ethical concept of practical transparency, on a spectrum of
            access that spans the chasm of the philosophical extremes of radical
            transparency to total obscurity, as a balance test, taking into
            account the value of embarrassing or damaging information to
            citizens against the harm that disclosure of that information could
            pose to the embarrassed or shamed person or persons who face the
            vitriolic naming, blaming, shaming culture of the Internet. As a
            balance test, practical transparency offers a workable ethical
            standard for journalists covering cases of censorship backfire that
            span legal boundaries.

            Keywords: Streisand Effect, shaming, transparency, censorship,
            obscurity

I. Introduction

       Jeff Jarvis, a City University of New York journalism professor regarded as a media
thought leader, has been a prolific critic of a wide variety of institutions and people online, and a
vocal opponent of censorship. So when Jarvis sought to censor a long-time critic for writing a
parody column in Esquire using the name @ProfJeffJarvis, he must have expected the backlash
typical of the Internet.

       I have put up with this for four years now, knowing that if and when I complain - cue
Streisand - I'll only bring more s*** upon my head, Jarvis wrote on his blog.1 Jarvis was
referring to the phenomenon that bears entertainer Barbra Streisand's name, the Streisand
Effect. The effect emerged more than a decade earlier, when aerial photos of Streisand's home
that were posted online went viral after she unsuccessfully sued to have them removed. The
Streisand Effect is the notion that the more you try to get something off the Internet, the more
you fuel everyone's interest in it, thus defeating the purpose of your original intervention.2

'Jeff Jarvis, Enough (2016), https://medium.com/redefining-rude/enough-569bae96773e#. z42qpircj.
2EVGENYMOROZOV, THE NET DELUSION 120 (2011).


UB Journal of Media Law & Ethics, Vol. 5 No. 3/4 (Summer Fall 2o16)


Page 4

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing nearly 3,000 academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.



Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most