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SLAPPing e-Publius: Protecting anonymous expression and reputation in a digital age
Unformatted Document Text:  Running  head:  SLAPPing  e-­‐Publius     23   mailer, or Facebook user. 81 The social and even civic benefits of this are unprecedented, but so are the legal questions these distribution methods raise. 82 There is perhaps no better example of the geometric folding in on itself of essentially private communication distributed via a global publishing medium than the 2004 case study involving Jessica Cutler, a 24-year-old Senate staff assistant in Washington, D.C., who blogged about her sex life pseudonymously as “The Washingtonienne.” 83 Cutler said she created her blog to keep a few of her friends up to date on her adventures in D.C., but she eschewed a password-protected firewall because she said she thought “it would be too much trouble” for her friends to have to remember and key in the password. 84 Cutler was engaging in essentially gossip meant for only a few friends, but her salacious gossip was published on a medium with global reach. Once published, Cutler’s blog posts, which included detailed accounts of her sexual encounters, including those with co-workers and at least one married man, were available online to                                                                                                                 81 For an overview of gatekeeping theory, see Dan Sullivan, Gatekeeping Theory, 86 J OURNALISM & M ASS C OMMUNICATION Q UARTERLY 4, 941-42 (Winter 2009); or Pamela Shoemaker, G ATEKEEPING (1991). For a specific application of gatekeeping theory, see, e.g., Dan Berkowitz, Refining the Gatekeeping Metaphor for Local Television News, 34 J OURNAL OF B ROADCASTING & E LECTRONIC M EDIA 55-68 (Winter 1990); or Stephen D. Reese and Jane Ballinger, The Roots of a Sociology of News: Remembering Mr. Gates and Social Control in the Newsroom, 78 J OURNALISM & M ASS C OMMUNICATION Q UARTERLY 641-58 (Winter 2001). 82 For a few of these benefits, see Mark A. Lemley & Lawrence Lessig, The End of End-to-End: Preserving the Architecture of the Internet in the Broadband Era, 48 UCLA L. Rev. 925, 932–33 (2001); Martin M. Redish & Kirk J. Kaludis, The Right of Expressive Access in First Amendment Theory: Redistributive Values and the Democratic Dilemma, 93 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1083, 1130–31 (1999); Kathleen M. Sullivan, First Amendment Intermediaries in the Age of Cyberspace, 45 UCLA L. Rev. 1653, 1670–73 (1998); Eugene Volokh, Cheap Speech and What It Will Do, 104 Yale L.J. 1805, 1834–38 (1995); Brian Carroll, Culture Clash: Journalism and the Communal Ethos of the Blogosphere, 1 I NTO THE B LOGOSPHERE : R HETORIC , C OMMUNITY , AND C ULTURE OF W EBLOGS (Summer 2004), http://www.intotheblogosphere.org, visited Nov. 3, 2010; Brian Carroll and Katie Landry, Logging on and letting out: Using online social networks to grieve and to mourn, 30 B ULLETIN OF S CIENCE , T ECHNOLOGY & S OCIETY 341 (Fall 2010). 83 The blog is no longer active, but archived copies are available at Wonkette, http://wonkette.com/4162/the-lost-washingtonienne-wonkette-exclusive-etc-etc, visited Nov. 11, 2010. 84 April Witt, Blog Interrupted, W ASH . P OST M AGAZINE W12 (August 15, 2004).

Authors: Carroll, Brian.
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background image
Running  head:  SLAPPing  e-­‐Publius  
 
23  
mailer, or Facebook user.
81
 The social and even civic benefits of this are unprecedented, 
but so are the legal questions these distribution methods raise.
82
  
 
There is perhaps no better example of the geometric folding in on itself of 
essentially private communication distributed via a global publishing medium than the 
2004 case study involving Jessica Cutler, a 24-year-old Senate staff assistant in 
Washington, D.C., who blogged about her sex life pseudonymously as “The 
Washingtonienne.”
83
 Cutler said she created her blog to keep a few of her friends up to 
date on her adventures in D.C., but she eschewed a password-protected firewall because 
she said she thought “it would be too much trouble” for her friends to have to remember 
and key in the password.
84
 Cutler was engaging in essentially gossip meant for only a few 
friends, but her salacious gossip was published on a medium with global reach. Once 
published, Cutler’s blog posts, which included detailed accounts of her sexual encounters, 
including those with co-workers and at least one married man, were available online to 
                                                                                                               
81
 For an overview of gatekeeping theory, see Dan Sullivan, Gatekeeping Theory, 86
 
J
OURNALISM 
&
 
M
ASS 
C
OMMUNICATION 
Q
UARTERLY
 4, 941-42 (Winter 2009); or Pamela Shoemaker, G
ATEKEEPING
 (1991). For 
a specific application of gatekeeping theory, see, e.g., Dan Berkowitz, Refining the Gatekeeping Metaphor 
for Local Television News
, 34 J
OURNAL OF 
B
ROADCASTING 
&
 
E
LECTRONIC 
M
EDIA
 55-68 (Winter 1990); or 
Stephen D. Reese and Jane Ballinger, The Roots of a Sociology of News: Remembering Mr. Gates and 
Social Control in the Newsroom
, 78 J
OURNALISM 
&
 
M
ASS 
C
OMMUNICATION 
Q
UARTERLY 
641-58 (Winter 
2001). 
 
82
 For a few of these benefits, see Mark A. Lemley & Lawrence Lessig, The End of End-to-End: Preserving 
the Architecture of the Internet in the Broadband Era, 48 UCLA L. Rev. 925, 932–33 (2001); Martin M. 
Redish & Kirk J. Kaludis, The Right of Expressive Access in First Amendment Theory: Redistributive 
Values and the Democratic Dilemma
, 93 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1083, 1130–31 (1999); Kathleen M. Sullivan, 
First Amendment Intermediaries in the Age of Cyberspace, 45 UCLA L. Rev. 1653, 1670–73 (1998); 
Eugene Volokh, Cheap Speech and What It Will Do, 104 Yale L.J. 1805, 1834–38 (1995); Brian Carroll, 
Culture Clash: Journalism and the Communal Ethos of the Blogosphere, 1 I
NTO THE 
B
LOGOSPHERE
:
 
R
HETORIC
,
 
C
OMMUNITY
,
 AND 
C
ULTURE OF 
W
EBLOGS 
(Summer 2004), http://www.intotheblogosphere.org, 
visited Nov. 3, 2010; Brian Carroll and Katie Landry, Logging on and letting out: Using online social 
networks to grieve and to mourn
, 30 B
ULLETIN OF 
S
CIENCE
,
 
T
ECHNOLOGY 
&
 
S
OCIETY
 341 (Fall 2010). 
 
83
 The blog is no longer active, but archived copies are available at Wonkette, 
http://wonkette.com/4162/the-lost-washingtonienne-wonkette-exclusive-etc-etc, visited Nov. 11, 2010. 
 
84
 April Witt, Blog Interrupted, W
ASH
.
 
P
OST 
M
AGAZINE
 W12 (August 15, 2004). 
 


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