It’s amazing how often the Streisand Effect impacts both celebrities and organizations. For example, consider the recent news around Hulk Hogan.
Back in 2012, unknown people were shopping around a sex tape of wrestler Hulk Hogan. Never ones to be above petty gossip around washed up celebrities, the Gawker site released a small, edited portion of the tape to prove it existed and reap millions of clicks.
By 2015, the mainstream public had completely forgotten about it, and Hogan was working for the WWE, making money well past his prime.
So what happened next? The Streisand Effect stuck. Wikipedia defines this as the “phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.” Named for how Barbra Streisand’s 2003 attempts to suppress photos of her mansion actually increasing interest in them.
Back in 2015, the mainstream public had pretty much forgotten about Hogan’s sex tape, and he was back to performing in the WWE, which is pretty impressive for a 61 year old. However, this all came crashing down when Hogan decided to file a $100 million privacy lawsuit against Gawker years late.
The lawsuit immediately turned the existence of that tape from a forgotten minor scandal to top story, and immediately increased interest in the original tape. This new interest caused the full tape being released by the people who originally sold it to Gawker.
This new, full version includes a long, racist rant that caused the WWE to not only end their partnership with Hogan, but strip any and all references to him from their site and media.
Even worse for Hogan, the sudden interest in the full tape, along with the public reaction around his racist rants, may end up being the best defense against Hogan’s case according to Fortune.
If ever there was a lesson to be learned in social media, it’s “don’t discount the Streisand Effect”.