Last week Kansas high school student Emma Sullivan visited her state capital and then tweeted that she wished she could tell her governor that “he sucked” in person. She then ended the tweet with the hashtag: “#heblowsalot.” I will admit, I think that’s a funny hashtag.
One of the Governor’s staff members found the tweet and called the Principal who demanded she write a letter of apology. Then the Governor experienced The Streisand Effect, the online phenomenon in which the attempt to hide something calls disproportionate attention to the thing one is trying to hide. In response to the fracas, Sullivan’s Twitter followers went from about fifty people to over 8,000, and media coverage went national. Today, Governor Brownback apologized for the reaction; the complete opposite of what his Communications Director wanted. No one is asking Sullivan to apologize anymore.