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 Chilling Effects Clearinghouse > Defamation > Frequently Asked Questions > What is a SLAPP suit? Printer-friendly version
Question: What is a SLAPP suit?

Answer: SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or lawsuits aimed at squelching speech and involvement in government. Many states, including California, have anti-SLAPP statutes allowing one who has been targeted by a SLAPP to sue back.

Online, SLAPP suits typically involve a person who has posted anonymous criticisms of a corporation or public figure on the Internet. The target of the criticism then files a lawsuit so they can issue a subpoena to the Web site or Internet Service Provider (ISP) involved and thereby discover the identity of their anonymous critic. Many SLAPPers stop after discovering their critic's identity, using the tactic to intimidate or silence online speakers even though they were engaging in protected expression under the First Amendment.

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