Kuwait struck by the 'Streisand effect'

When it comes to publicity, sometimes doing nothing is often the best course of action, says Shane McGinley

Barbra Streisand and Kuwait are not words you generally see together in the same sentence so let me explain.

The Streisand effect has become known as the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicising the information even more widely.

It’s mainly a result of the advent of social media like Twitter and 24/7 news rolling news and the effect is named after an incident in 2003 when the American singer and actress Barbra Streisand complained about someone posting a picture of her California mansion on an internet site about coastal erosion and set about trying to have the image removed.

If she’d let it go then the image that offended her would probably have gone largely unnoticed. As it happened, her attempt to ban the image resulted in masses of publicity and millions more people logging on to see her house.

So back to Kuwait... The Gulf state has banned several television news channels from airing programmes about an investigation into a recording that discusses an alleged plot against the ruling system

Already, the Information Ministry also said it had referred several newspapers to the public prosecutor for violating a news blackout imposed over the affair that has prompted rare online gossip about possible frictions inside the ruling family.

Al-Watan reported last week that Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, a ruling family member, had given Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah, another family member, 10 days to disclose details about companies that had been hired to transcribe the recording and its content, before starting possible legal action.

I have no idea what the subject of this ‘plot’ is or what is in the alleged recordings, the background to it or why it is proving so controversial that TV and newspapers have found themselves in hot water over it, but all this publicity about it has just highlighted it even more and made the online community even more intrigued to find out the juicy details about it.

Just look at the original case in point: only six people downloaded images of Streisand’s house before she took action. After the ensuing publicity and $50m threatened lawsuit, more than 420,000 reportedly people clicked in, downloaded it and shared it worldwide.

This is something Kuwait should take into account when it seeks to suppress information. Sometimes highlighting something simply has the complete opposite effect. Here’s another example: A few weeks ago not many people had heard of the taxi ordering smartphone app Uber. Last week European taxi drivers protested against it and called for its use to be regulated, claiming it was having a detrimental impact on their business and livelihood.

The images of the drivers protesting all over Europe has simply increased Uber’s profile as it was mentioned in virtually every news story. Now thousands more people have heard of Uber and its service, including you, showing, once again, the full impact of the Streisand effect in all its glory. Sometimes doing nothing really, really is the best course of action.

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Posted by: Hina Mubarak

Give citizenship to children's of Kuwaiti mothers !

Posted by: mumeen

Nothing good can happen with such racism, void superiority complex and PTBK (Pround To Be Kuwaiti) in blood, Sarah.

Posted by: Sarah

Truly the Mirror Has Two Faces, as disengaged Kuwaitis disembark the planes in the UAE frustrated by government wrangling?s and a stalled development plan, Let?s Meet the Fockers.! Speak to a Kuwaiti and all they can do is reminisce about The Way We Were, going back to the 70?s when they assisted the UAE with education and were looked upon as the pearl of the gulf, as they still manage to operate their subsidies on a 70?s grid although it?s bankrupting the country, whilst the purse goes overseas with the Prince of Tides. But with complaints on a failed healthcare system, What Up Doc?, and the lowest GPA scores in the Gulf, For Pete?s Sake it appears the democratic reform may have failed you. But On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and although Kuwait appears to be Up The Sandbox, they still have the ability to reignite the development plan which begins with a new airport, upgrading the national carrier and restoring national pride so that Kuwait can resume its position in the GCC.

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