Have you seen the “Khloe Kardashian photo”? You know, the one? If you have been on social media in the past week, there’s an extremely high chance you have.
You might think, with the way in which the photo has sent the Kardashian PR machine into overdrive trying to remove it from the internet, that it involves Khloe doing something heinous/scandalous/actually criminal.
But all she’s doing is existing, in a bikini, poolside, unedited and unfiltered. Which in the world of the Kardashians actually is quite scandalous, it seems.
Rumour has it the photo (which we cannot republish for legal reasons) was taken by MJ, Khloe’s grandmother, and uploaded to social media by “accident” by an assistant. It was quickly deleted, but fans had already taken screenshots and shared them across various platforms.
The story might have ended there, except the people who posted the image started claiming they had received copyright takedown notices from the Kardashian Kamp. It seems Khloe and her team have never heard of the Streisand Effect – a phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or censor something has the exact opposite effect and blows it up further instead.
The name derives from Barbra Streisand’s attempt to remove an aerial shot of her home from a photographer’s collection, which took downloads of the photo from six total (two of which were Streisand’s own attorneys) to more than 420,000 in a month.
Because this is the internet, and especially because the Kardashians are involved, a very similar thing happened to the Khloe photo – people started actively spreading the image in defiance of the attempt to cover it up. More people saw it and spread it, even more started talking about it and a Discourse with a capital D emerged. Hundreds of thousands more people were exposed to the photo than would have been in the first place, even as every post containing it disappeared thanks to those cease and desist letters.
When it became impossible to ignore just how impossible to ignore the photo was, Khloe posted what she says are actual “unretouched and unfiltered” videos of her body that show her much further from the camera, with less harsh lighting. It’s the “real” image of Khloe in a way that she can control – which of course is the problem with the actual unretouched and unfiltered image. It was completely out of her control on every level, despite her lawyers doggedly playing whack-a-mole with it.