Public figure

A public figure is a person, such as a politician, celebrity, social media personality, or business leader, who has a certain social position within a certain scope and a significant influence and so is often widely concerned by the public, can benefit enormously from society, and is closely related to public interests in society.[1]

In the context of defamation actions (libel and slander) as well as invasion of privacy, a public figure cannot succeed in a lawsuit on incorrect harmful statements in the United States unless there is proof that the writer or publisher acted with actual malice by knowing the falsity or by reckless disregard for the truth.[2] The legal burden of proof in defamation actions is thus higher in the case of a public figure than in the case of an ordinary person.


The controlling precedent in the United States was set in 1964 by the United States Supreme Court in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which is considered a key decision in supporting the First Amendment and freedom of the press.

A fairly high threshold of public activity is necessary to elevate people to a public figure status. Typically, they must either be:

  • a public figure, a public official or any other person pervasively involved in public affairs, or
  • a limited purpose public figure, those who have "thrust themselves to the forefront of particular public controversies in order to influence the resolution of the issues involved." A "particularized determination" is required to decide whether a person is a limited purpose public figure, which can be variously interpreted:[3]

A person can become an "involuntary public figure" as the result of publicity, even though that person did not want or invite the public attention. For example, people accused of high profile crimes may be unable to pursue actions for defamation even after their innocence is established. ...

A person can also become a "limited public figure" by engaging in actions which generate publicity within a narrow area of interest. For example, [jokes about] ... Terry Rakolta [an activist who spearheaded a boycott of the show Married ... with Children] were fair comments ... within the confines of her public conduct [and] protected by Ms. Rakolta's status as a "limited public figure".

Discussion of a person on the Internet may at times rise to the level that it causes the subject of discussion to be treated as an involuntary public figure.[4]

Corporations are not automatically treated as public figures, and defamation claims made by corporations are evaluated under the same standard as those made by individuals.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Ferrari, Anne (2016-08-10). "Using Celebrities in Abnormal Psychology as Teaching Tools to Decrease Stigma and Increase Help Seeking". Teaching of Psychology. 43 (4): 329–333. doi:10.1177/0098628316662765.
  2. ^ Shiffrin, Steven H. (2006). The First Amendment. St. Paul, MN: Thomson/ West. pp. 58–60. ISBN 978-0-314-16256-4.
  3. ^ Aaron Larson: Defamation, Libel and Slander Law., August 2003
  4. ^ Dotinga, Randy (9 November 2005). "Are You a 'Public Figure'?". Wired.
  5. ^ "Online Defamation Law". Electronic Frontier Foundation. 2011-08-26. Retrieved 11 December 2017.

Further reading

Avital Sharansky

Avital Sharansky (born Natalia Stieglitz (Ukrainian: Наталія Стігліц, Russian: Наталья Штиглиц) in Ukraine, 1950; married name also Shcharansky) is a former activist and public figure in the Soviet Jewry Movement who fought for the release of her husband, Natan Sharansky, from Soviet imprisonment.

Bambang Pamungkas

Bambang Pamungkas (born 10 June 1980), also known as Bepe, is an Indonesian professional footballer who plays for Persija Jakarta in the Liga 1 and previously the Indonesia national football team. His natural position is striker. Bambang made his name in South East Asian football when he scored the only goal for Indonesia at the 2002 Tiger Cup semifinal against Malaysia, and was the tournament's top scorer with eight goals.Bambang is considered to be an outstanding header of the ball, and has a reputation for sharpness in the penalty box. He is Indonesia's record holder in terms of both appearances and goalscoring, earning 86 caps and 38 goals with the Indonesia national team, and is perhaps the team's most popular player among its supporters. He was considered one of top ten Asian players of 2012 by ESPN Soccernet.

Death threat

A death threat is a threat, often made anonymously, by one person or a group of people to kill another person or group of people. These threats are often designed to intimidate victims in order to manipulate their behaviour, and thus a death threat can be a form of coercion. For example, a death threat could be used to dissuade a public figure from pursuing a criminal investigation or an advocacy campaign.

In most jurisdictions, death threats are a serious type of criminal offence. Death threats are often covered by coercion statutes. For instance, the coercion statute in Alaska says:

A person commits the crime of coercion if the person compels another to engage in conduct from which there is a legal right to abstain or abstain from conduct in which there is a legal right to engage, by means of instilling in the person who is compelled a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the person who makes the demand or another may inflict physical injury on anyone....

Early life and career of Bill Clinton

William Jefferson Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. He won two elections with landslide margins in the Electoral College in both 1992 and 1996, but failed to win a majority of the vote both times due to the presence of a third candidate, Ross Perot. Most of his early life was spent in his home state of Arkansas, where he was born and raised for his entire childhood in varying cities from Hope to Hot Springs. He served in multiple political offices in the state including as the state's Attorney General for two years and as Governor of Arkansas for a total of almost twelve nonconsecutive years.

Fan mail

Fan mail is mail sent to a public figure, especially a celebrity, by their admirers or "fans".

In return for a fan's support and admiration, public figures may send an autographed poster, photo, reply letter or note thanking their fans for their encouragement, gifts, and support. Fan mail sent to public figures can be through postal mail, email, social media websites, and other platforms that allow fans and users to communicate with their favorite public figures.

Greeks in Chile

There has been a community of Greeks in Chile since the sixteenth century. According to official figures there are between 120,000 Chileans of Greek origin. Most reside either in the Santiago area or in the Antofagasta area.

Greenbelt Cooperative Publishing Ass'n, Inc. v. Bresler

Greenbelt Cooperative Publishing Association, Inc. v. Bresler, 398 U.S. 6 (1970), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that using the word "blackmail" in a newspaper article "was no more than rhetorical hyperbole" and that finding such usage as libel "would subvert the most fundamental meaning of a free press" guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The ruling also touched on the plaintiff's status as a public figure.

Jafargulu agha Javanshir

Jafargulu agha Javanshir (Azerbaijani: Cəfərqulu xan Məhəmmədhəsən ağa oğlu Sarıcalı-Cavanşir; 1787 — 1866) was an Azerbaijani poet and public figure and was a major-general of the Russian Army.

Julián Berrendero

Julián Berrendero Martín (born San Agustín del Guadalix, 8 April 1912, died Madrid, 1 August 1995) was a Spanish road racing cyclist. He is most famous for having won the third and fourth editions of the Vuelta a España in 1941 and 1942. In addition, he won a total of three mountains jerseys at the Vuelta and the Tour de France

“Berrendero was a marked man, a public figure who had supported the Republican cause. As soon as he reached the Spanish border, Franco’s men arrested him and threw him into a concentration camp, where he remained for 18 months. He survived the camps, which were characterized by disease, malnourishment and frequent beatings, but to what physical and mental cost? He was only 27 and should have been at the height of his cycling career.”

Kotel, Bulgaria

Kotel (Bulgarian: Ко̀тел) is a town in central Bulgaria, part of Sliven Province. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Kotel Municipality. As of 2016, the town has a population of 5329 inhabitants.Kotel is known for the numerous personalities of the Bulgarian National Revival that are somehow connected to the town, such as politicians Alexander Bogoridi and Stefan Bogoridi, enlighteners Sophronius of Vratsa and Petar Beron, public figure Gavril Krastevich, revolutionary Georgi Rakovski, as well as World War II prime minister Dobri Bozhilov. It has a well-known music school and a large talented Romani population who can be found playing in restaurants and orchestras all over Bulgaria. Because of its situation in the mountains Kotel is also a popular healthy resort for the cure of diseases such as TB. Kotel has been a center for carpet making and there is a museum devoted to the craft.

Mahadev Govind Ranade

Mahadev Govind Ranade (18 January 1842 - 16 January 1901) was an Indian scholar, social reformer, justice and author. He was a founding member of the Indian National Congress party and owned several designations as member of the Bombay legislative council, member of the finance committee at the centre, and judge of the Bombay High Court, Maharashtra.As a well known public figure, his personality as a calm and patient optimist influenced his attitude towards dealings with Britain as well as reform in India. During his life he helped to establish the Vaktruttvottejak Sabha, the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha and the Prarthana Samaj, and edited a Bombay Anglo-Marathi daily paper, the Induprakash, founded on his ideology of social and religious reform.

Press service

Press service is typically a department within an organization of some kind whose function is to communicate with mass media on topics related to that organization by issuing press releases and using other various means such as public speeches at news conferences, answering questions by telephone or on the Internet.

The main (or only) public figure who makes announcements is usually called a press secretary, press officer or spokesperson.

For example, there is a press service for the European Parliament.


A publicist is a person whose job is to generate and manage publicity for a company, a brand, or public figure – especially a celebrity – or for a work such as a book, film, or album. Publicists are public-relations specialists who have the role to maintain and represent the images of individuals, rather than representing an entire corporation or business. Publicists are also hired by public figures who want to maintain or protect their image. Publicists brand their clients by getting magazine, TV, newspaper, and website coverage. Most top-level publicists work in private practice, handling multiple clients.

The term publicist was coined by the legal scholar Francis Lieber to describe the public-like role of internationalists during the late nineteenth century. Publicists are sometimes called flacks which traces back to Gene Flack, who was a well-known movie publicist in the 1930s.

Richard Adams

Richard George Adams (9 May 1920 – 24 December 2016) was an English novelist and writer of the books Watership Down, Shardik and The Plague Dogs. He studied modern history at university before serving in the British Army during World War II. Afterwards, he completed his studies, and then joined the British Civil Service. In 1974, two years after Watership Down was published, Adams became a full-time author.

Sophia (robot)

Sophia is a social humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong based company Hanson Robotics. Sophia was activated on February 14, 2016 and made its first public appearance at South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in mid-March 2016 in Austin, Texas, United States. It is able to display more than 50 facial expressions.

Sophia has been covered by media around the globe and has participated in many high-profile interviews. In October 2017, Sophia became the first robot to receive citizenship of any country. In November 2017, Sophia was named the United Nations Development Programme's first ever Innovation Champion, and is the first non-human to be given any United Nations title.

Spin (propaganda)

In public relations and politics, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to persuade public opinion in favor or against some organization or public figure. While traditional public relations and advertising may also rely on altering the presentation of the facts, "spin" often implies the use of disingenuous, deceptive, and highly manipulative tactics.Because of the frequent association between spin and press conferences (especially government press conferences), the room in which these conferences take place is sometimes described as a "spin room". Public relations advisors, pollsters and media consultants who develop deceptive or misleading messages may be referred to as "spin doctors" or "spinmeisters".

As such, a standard tactic used in "spinning" is to reframe, reposition, or otherwise modify the perception of an issue or event, to reduce any negative impact it might have on public opinion. For example, a company whose top-selling product is found to have a significant safety problem may "reframe" the issue by criticizing the safety of its main competitor's products or indeed by highlighting the risk associated with the entire product category. This might be done using a "catchy" slogan or sound bite that can help to persuade the public of the company's biased point of view. This tactic could enable the company to defocus the public's attention on the negative aspects of its product.As it takes experience and training to "spin" an issue, spinning is typically a service provided by paid media advisors and media consultants. The largest and most powerful companies may have in-house employees and sophisticated units with expertise in spinning issues. While spin is often considered to be a private sector tactic, in the 1990s and 2000s, some politicians and political staff have been accused by their opponents of using deceptive "spin" tactics to manipulate public opinion or deceive the public. Spin approaches used by some political teams include "burying" potentially negative new information by releasing it at the end of the workday on the last day before a long weekend; selectively cherry-picking quotes from previous speeches made by their employer or an opposing politician to give the impression that they advocate a certain position; and purposely leaking misinformation about an opposing politician or candidate that casts them in a negative light.

The Mold of Yancy

"The Mold of Yancy" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1955. It is published in volume four of The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, The Days of Perky Pat."The Mold of Yancy" follows an investigation into an off-Earth colony where a seemingly benign totalitarian society has emerged. The eponymous Yancy is a popular public figure who is actually a virtual person, created by teams of 'Yance-men'. All aspects of day-to-day life are commentated on by Yancy through advertisements and broadcast shows, from breakfast cereal to music to politics. The populace of the society are essentially being de-politicized and homogenised by the messages of Yancy. All of Yancy's opinions are the least controversial possible; the way his speech is written appears to be profound, yet the content is such that very little is being said.

In the author's notes for this short story, it is mentioned that the Yancy character was roughly based on U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Vyacheslav Ponomarev (public figure)

Vyacheslav Vladimirovich Ponomarev (Russian: Вячеслав Владимирович Пономарёв) (born 2 May 1965, in Sloviansk) is an owner of a soap production company who in 2014 became known as the self-proclaimed mayor of the city of Sloviansk in Donetsk Oblast, a part of Ukraine.

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