Negative Comments Online: SLAPPing the First Amendment in the USA

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Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, SLAPP, freedom of speech, Anti-SLAPP, cyberSLAPP, First Amendment, anonymity, internet posts, USA, management, decision making, negative comments

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Corporations that encounter what they consider harmful criticism posted on the internet have resorted to lawsuits against the posters, or where the posters are anonymous, have tried to obtain subpoenas to learn the identities of the posters. State legislatures and courts have taken a dim view of the tactic, terming it as designed to strangle public participation and in violation of the First Amendment protection of speech in the United States Constitution. Many states have passed statutes to combat the so-called ‘Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation’ (SLAPP) and there is a move to introduce federal legislation in this area. This paper examines the development of SLAPPs and their relation to First Amendment jurisprudence, from a non-corporate viewpoint. It also discusses corporate attempts to pierce the anonymity veil on the internet and the corresponding legal responses.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

International Journal of Management and Decision Making, v. 11, no. 5/6, p. 301-311