January 19, 2010 | By Richard Esguerra

Hello Streisand Effect: Takedown Hall of Shame Grows by Four

(The Streisand Effect describes the phenomenon by which an attempt to suppress information results in faster, broader dissemination of that information. Roughly explained, attempted censorship -- particularly by a famous or well-known entity -- can flag the information as more interesting.)

Last October, we launched the Takedown Hall of Shame to highlight the most egregious attempts to silence speech online with bogus intellectual property complaints. Today, we’re inducting four more would-be censors into the pantheon of speech bullies. They are:

  • Peabody Energy, for issuing outstandingly spurious trademark claims against a spoof site criticizing their "clean coal" group;
  • Yahoo, for an impressive attempt to return a cat to the bag after a leak of its guide to snooping services for law enforcement was posted to a whistleblower site;
  • Perez Hilton and the Miss Universe Organization for endeavoring to stop a non-profit from airing an ad commenting on a public same-sex marriage controversy initiated by their videos; and
  • Universal Music Group, for attempting to muzzle online criticism of the rapper Akon.

The antidote for speech you disagree with is more speech -- not overreaching legal threats. Hopefully, we'll see companies exercise more discretion and transparency when dealing with speech they dislike, instead of reaching for the nearest blunt legal instruments.

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