What does SLAPP stand for?

Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation

SLAPP is an acronym for “strategic lawsuit against public participation”.

Typically, these lawsuits are initiated by large corporations, property developers, or government bodies. The primary aim is to discourage valid criticism of their actions.

For instance, let’s say a person or group voices their criticism against a company’s practices. To respond, the company might file a SLAPP. A real example of this happened in 2004 when a major electronics retailer, let’s call it “TechStore”, sued a former dealer named John Doe. John Doe had created a website to express his criticism against “TechStore”. This lawsuit was a classic example of a SLAPP.

The surprising fact is that the filers of SLAPPs often don’t care about winning these lawsuits. The real purpose of a SLAPP is to intimidate and silence critics by showing them the potential cost of speaking out against powerful organizations.

More often than not, SLAPP suits are either settled or withdrawn before a full hearing. However, by the time this happens, they have usually achieved their goal – causing damage to the critic or the critic’s reputation.

Example for using ‘SLAPP’ in a conversation

Hey, have you heard of SLAPP?

Yeah, it stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.”

Exactly! It’s when big companies or government entities file lawsuits to silence their critics.

Oh, like that time RadioShack sued that guy for his anti-RadioShack website?

Yes, that’s a classic example of a SLAPP suit. They just wanted to shut him down.

But why do they do it if they know they might not win?

The goal is to scare others into not speaking out against them. It’s a tactic to show the cost of criticism.