There is an urge in children to do the exact opposite of what they’re told. If a parent tells a kid not to go somewhere or do something, there’s an instinct that will kick into gear. “Don’t go down into the basement, son.”
You can bet that curious little bugger is going to wonder why. There’s a high probability that curiosity will take over and the lad will ignore his parent’s warning. He descends the basement steps, not in defiance of authority, but out of pure human curiosity.
This is a benign example of what is referred to as “The Streisand Effect.” “The Streisand Effect is the highly inflated proliferation of information when it was originally intended to be hidden, censored, or removed.”
“The contagion infects more and more people with curiosity, whereby an extensive global network like the Internet enables them to pursue it.” The more intense the effort to encourage people not to read or explore something, the stronger their urge to do just that, take a look.
A key point in this definition is how the “worldwide web” has become instrumental in the proliferation of this bizarre human characteristic. Many people still harbor that defiant nature of their beloved childhood. Tell them not to go down into the basement, and you can bet they will.
A perfect example of this odd phenomenon happened with Twitter. As one of the most popular venues for social media interaction, Twitter is a massive global internet network. Twitter is a prime place for people to read, inspect, investigate, and research the forbidden.
It’s a key reason why the spread of dangerous information will get someone banned. Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, recently did just that. Musk banned Jack Sweeney based on security concerns. But after public backlash, he unbanned the University of Central Florida student.
About as quickly as he unbanned the sophomore’s Twitter account, Musk leveled another ban on Sweeney. Sweeney created an account using the name @ElonJet. The wily UCF student thought, “it’d be cool to track how Musk managed his business empire.”
Musk banned Sweeney’s personal account several hours later. The “Chief Twit” then commenced to ban other accounts Sweeney operates. After a little pressure, Musk unbanned @ElonJet before re-banning the account later the same afternoon.
Musk’s new company shared the reasoning behind the ban. “When someone shares an individual’s live location on Twitter, there is an increased risk of physical harm.” Twitter said it will remove tweets that share personal location information.
Ultimately, the Twitter statement said that “accounts dedicated to sharing someone else’s live location will be suspended.” Musk said that the new policy is because, possibly due to Sweeney exposing location data, his son was involved in a stalker incident.
Musk tweeted, “Last night, car carrying Lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood.” There was a call to pursue Sweeney legally.
But a few of Musk’s most ardent supporters cautioned against this approach. Whole Mars Catalog tweeted, “Elon, he is just a kid. Don’t take legal action against him. It’s bad press + the Streisand effect.”
“I understand you must be angry when the safety of your kid is being put at risk, but still dealing with Greenspan, I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through that.” Pretty interesting opinion about how telling people not to do something might trigger them to do it all the more.
This incident says as much about censorship and personal safety, as it does about the insatiable human persistence for the taboo. Tell Johnny, “Don’t go in the basement or the monster will get you,” and you can bet Johnny will violate that warning at his first opportunity.