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SLAPPing e-Publius: Protecting anonymous expression and reputation in a digital age
Unformatted Document Text:  Running  head:  SLAPPing  e-­‐Publius     20   fleeting or evanescent record of that otherwise ephemeral communication. As one author put it, “one who falls victim to anonymous blogging has little ability to completely destroy the statements.” 70 To concretize the difficulties in making this all-important distinction between public and private expression, it might be helpful to think about the kinds of expression that appear on or in online chat forums, online discussion boards, e-mail, and online gaming environments, many of which have explicitly social dimensions. Each of these can be regarded – and have been treated across disciplines of academic study – as interpersonal communications contexts. 71 Yet all of them utilize or otherwise depend on the Internet’s web, which is treated by most disciplines as a mass medium or collection of mass media technologies, albeit a more interactive medium than any previous mass medium. 72 This hybrid nature of much anonymous expression online presents unprecedented problems for the law. Historically, audiences for mass media have been                                                                                                                 70 S. Elizabeth Malloy, Bloggership: How blogs are transforming legal scholarship: Anonymous bloggers and defamation: Balancing interests on the Internet, 84 W ASH . U. L. R EV . 1187 (2006). 71 T. Postmes and M. Lea, Social Processes and Group Decision Making: Anonymity in Group Decision Support Systems, 43 E RGONOMICS 1252-1274 (2000); M. M. Mostyn, The Need for Regulating Anonymous Remailers, 14 I NTERNATIONAL R EVIEW OF L AW , C OMPUTERS , & T ECHNOLOGY 79-88 (2000); A. N. Joinson, Self-disclosure in Computer-Mediated Communication: The Role of Self- awareness and Visual Anonymity, 31 E UROPEAN J OURNAL OF S OCIAL P SYCHOLOGY 177-193 (2001); W. H. Dutton, The Social Impact of Emerging Telephone Services, 16 T ELECOMMUNICATIONS P OLICY 377-387 (1992); D. Antonioni, Designing an Effective 360-degree Appraisal Feedback Process, 25 O RGANIZATIONAL D YNAMICS 24-38 (1996); D. Myers, Anonymity is Part of the Magic: Individual Manipulation of Computer-Mediated Contexts, 10 Q UALITATIVE S OCIOLOGY , 251-266 (1987); R. A. Roffman, J. Picciano, L. Wickizer, M. Bolan and R. Ryan, Anonymous Enrollment in AIDS Prevention Telephone Group Counseling: Facilitating the Participation of Gay and Bisexual Men in Intervention and Research, 23 J OURNAL OF S OCIAL S ERVICE R ESEARCH 5-22 (1998); and Julia T. Wood, I NTERPERSONAL C OMMUNICATION : E VERYDAY E NCOUNTERS (2010), in which the author states the because “many students today form and conduct relationships at least partially online, this edition of Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters integrates research on online communication” (xi). 72 Again, as merely one example of hundreds of articles that similarly treat or define the web and even the entire Internet, of which the web is just one application, see Merrill Morris and Christine Ogan, The Internet as Mass Medium, 46 J OURNAL OF C OMMUNICATION 1, 39-50 (1996).

Authors: Carroll, Brian.
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background image
Running  head:  SLAPPing  e-­‐Publius  
 
20  
fleeting or evanescent record of that otherwise ephemeral communication. As one author 
put it, “one who falls victim to anonymous blogging has little ability to completely 
destroy the statements.”
70
 
 
To concretize the difficulties in making this all-important distinction between 
public and private expression, it might be helpful to think about the kinds of expression 
that appear on or in online chat forums, online discussion boards, e-mail, and online 
gaming environments, many of which have explicitly social dimensions. Each of these 
can be regarded – and have been treated across disciplines of academic study – as 
interpersonal communications contexts.
71
 Yet all of them utilize or otherwise depend on 
the Internet’s web, which is treated by most disciplines as a mass medium or collection of 
mass media technologies, albeit a more interactive medium than any previous mass 
medium.
72
 This hybrid nature of much anonymous expression online presents 
unprecedented problems for the law. Historically, audiences for mass media have been 
                                                                                                               
70
 S. Elizabeth Malloy, Bloggership: How blogs are transforming legal scholarship: Anonymous bloggers 
and defamation: Balancing interests on the Internet, 84 W
ASH
.
 
U.
 
L.
 
R
EV
. 1187 (2006). 
 
71
 T. Postmes and M. Lea, Social Processes and Group Decision Making: Anonymity in Group Decision 
Support Systems, 43 E
RGONOMICS
 1252-1274 (2000); M. M. Mostyn, The Need for Regulating Anonymous 
Remailers, 14 I
NTERNATIONAL 
R
EVIEW OF 
L
AW
,
 
C
OMPUTERS
,
 
&
 
T
ECHNOLOGY
 79-88 (2000); A. N. 
Joinson, Self-disclosure in Computer-Mediated Communication: The Role of Self- awareness and Visual 
Anonymity
, 31 E
UROPEAN 
J
OURNAL OF 
S
OCIAL 
P
SYCHOLOGY
 177-193 (2001); W. H. Dutton, The Social 
Impact of Emerging Telephone Services, 16 T
ELECOMMUNICATIONS 
P
OLICY
 377-387 (1992); D. Antonioni, 
Designing an Effective 360-degree Appraisal Feedback Process, 25 O
RGANIZATIONAL 
D
YNAMICS
 24-38 
(1996); D. Myers, Anonymity is Part of the Magic: Individual Manipulation of Computer-Mediated 
Contexts
, 10 Q
UALITATIVE 
S
OCIOLOGY
251-266 (1987); R. A. Roffman, J. Picciano, L. Wickizer, M. 
Bolan and R. Ryan, Anonymous Enrollment in AIDS Prevention Telephone Group Counseling: Facilitating 
the Participation of Gay and Bisexual Men in Intervention and Research
,  23 J
OURNAL OF 
S
OCIAL 
S
ERVICE 
R
ESEARCH 
5-22 (1998); and Julia T. Wood, I
NTERPERSONAL 
C
OMMUNICATION
:
 
E
VERYDAY 
E
NCOUNTERS
 
(2010), in which the author states the because “many students today form and conduct relationships at least 
partially online, this edition of Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters integrates research on 
online communication” (xi). 
 
72
 Again, as merely one example of hundreds of articles that similarly treat or define the web and even the 
entire Internet, of which the web is just one application, see Merrill Morris and Christine Ogan, The 
Internet as Mass Medium
, 46 J
OURNAL OF 
C
OMMUNICATION
 1, 39-50 (1996). 
 


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