Amit Shah and the Streisand Effect: how newspaper readers who did not know he was unwell, are being told that he is in fine health!

Home minister Amit Shah has been mostly missing in action since the outbreak of Coronavirus.

Although the absence set social media abuzz every now and then, only The Telegraph bothered to cover it as a news story on April 19 (above).

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On May 5, Mumbai Mirror sneaked in a gossip item of Shah becoming a grandfather soon, in which it mentioned the rumour in passing.

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But fresh speculation of his health, prompted by a photograph (above) showing a severely shrunken Shah from a meeting on May 7, has led to a formal if sarky clarification from the alleged “No.2”.

Not surprisingly, this has led to what media academics call the Streisand effect: “how efforts to suppress a juicy piece of online information can backfire and end up making things worse for the would-be censor.”

Newspaper after newspaper, which did not tell their readers that the country’s home minister was unwell in the first place, is now reassuring them there is nothing to worry about his health.

In other words, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of my health are exaggerated. On the other hand, cynical journalists know never to trust a rumour till it is officially denied.

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