The image had been circulating online since the weekend and was said to have been taken over Easter and posted by Khloe’s maternal grandmother, Mary Jo “MJ” Shannon.
Fans have praised the “beautiful” snap for showing a different, more relaxed side of the reality star than the image she usually presents to her 136 million Instagram followers. By way of contrast, here she is in a photo posted to her official Instagram account four days ago:
And here’s another recent Instagram post – one of many recent photos that have had fans asking whether her ever-changing appearance was due to surgery, social media filters or a combination of both:
Kardashian family representatives went into overdrive as the offending bikini photo circulated.
“The colour edited photo was taken of Khloé during a private family gathering and posted to social media without permission by mistake by an assistant,” Tracy Romulus, chief marketing officer for KKW Brands, said in a statement sent to Page Six.
“Khloé looks beautiful but it is within the right of the copyright owner to not want an image not intended to be published taken down.”
Kim swoops in
The family’s representatives aren’t the only ones trying to have the photo scrubbed from the internet – an unverified screenshot circulating on Reddit also shows Kim Kardashian herself sending a fan a direct message on Twitter, asking them to delete the photo.
The direct message appears to show Kim claiming a “doctored stolen photo was taken of Khloe that is in the worst lighting,” calling it a “copy wright (sic) infringement due to it being stolen and posted from a fake account of my grandmas.”
The ‘Streisand effect’ in action
The Kardashian team’s response is the latest example of the ‘Streisand effect’, a social phenomenon that occurs when attempts to hide or censor information – often by celebs’ PR teams – have the unintended consequence of further publicising them. The term derived from Barbra herself, who in 2003 sued a photographer who had taken an aerial photo of her mansion for violation of privacy. Before her lawsuit, the photo had only been downloaded from the photographer’s website six times. In the month after her legal action made headlines, more than 400,000 people visited the photographer’s website to see the offending photo.
Since then, many other celebs have fallen victim to the Streisand effect. Beyonce’s team tried to kill unflattering photos of her taken during her 2013 Superbowl Halftime show, only to see them turned into a viral meme. The same year, Pippa Middleton’s legal team threatened to shut down a parody Twitter account in her name – thereby making it more popular than ever. In every example, the effect is the same: Let the public know you don’t want them to see something, and they’ll want to see it even more.
Khloe’s response: Post through it
Khloe herself is yet to publicly respond to the unfolding controversy, instead focusing on what the family does best: Instagram #sponcon. All eyes are on her Instagram account, waiting for her to acknowledge the issue – what better time to drop an ad for bottled water: