Burning the evidence refers to the silencing tactic of removing source material that documents an incident -- for instance, deletion of video documenting hired women dancers "entertaining" male conference attendees, or removal of a blog post that illustrates the poster's discriminatory positions -- for the purpose of taking the material out of the limelight, stifling discussion of the incident, or evading responsibility for it. A goodwill attempt to avoid future harm by taking down offensive material is usually distinguished by an acknowledgement that the incident took place, an explicit explanation as to why the material is being removed, and a genuine apology.
This is considered a silencing tactic because it
- makes it more difficult to talk about the incident
- represents an active attempt to evade responsibility for the incident, to avoid negative feedback, and to remove the incident from public discourse
- makes it more difficult to prove that the incident took place
- makes accounts of the incident less illustrative and so easier to downplay
- aids in future denial that the incident occurred