Some states have anti-SLAPP laws. In California, for instance, a SLAPP defendant can recover legal fees, court costs and other expenses if the judge finds at the outset that the plaintiff has no shot at winning.Proponents of anti-SLAPP laws are pushing for federal legislation. "Nearly half the states don't have anti-SLAPP laws," says Evan Mascagni, legislative assistant for the Public Participation Project in Berkeley, Calif. "Among states that do have anti-SLAPP laws, they vary in strength." The uneven playing field encourages plaintiffs to sue in states where anti-SLAPP rules are weak or nonexistent. "A federal law would prevent forum shopping and provide unified protection for all," he says. So what if I'm SLAPPed? Don't expect the liability insurance on a standard home insurance policy to protect you. Typically standard home insurance doesn't cover your legal costs for defamation of character, slander and copyright violation claims. (See: " Alphabet soup: 6 types of homeowners insurance and what they cover.") However, you can purchase personal injury insurance as an endorsement on a standard home insurance policy for as little as $10 a year, says Tully Lehman, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Network of California. The endorsement would offer coverage equal to the home insurance policy's general liability coverage. Some high-end home insurance policies and some umbrella liability policies include personal injury coverage as well. Review your policy and talk to your insurance agent. If you're a professional blogger, you'll need a business liability policy. (See: " What is an umbrella policy? How much coverage do I need?") "Remember, though, just because you have the coverage doesn't mean you can start blogging, tweeting, and posting whatever you want," Lehman says. "Intent matters, so if you knew what you were doing was wrong, the policy may not cover you." Use common sense Lawsuits like the one in Virginia are few and far between, compared to the millions of reviews on sites like Yelp.
"Eighty percent of our reviews are three stars or higher," says Darnell Holloway, Yelp's manager of local business outreach. The highest rating is five stars.The site advises consumers to be accurate, avoid embellishment and broad generalizations, and to relate only their firsthand experiences. The site also offers free tools for businesses to interact online with reviewers. "Courts have consistently ruled that consumers have the right to share their truthful experiences. As a result, businesses that choose to sue their customers to silence them, rather than address their comments, rarely prevail and often bring additional unwanted attention to the original criticism," the company states.