Definition - What does Chilling Effect mean?
A chilling effect is when a person or a group has a fear of exercising their right to free speech due to perceived negative legal consequences. This commonly occurs when people are afraid to say things due to a fear of being sued for libel. In such circumstances, the term "chilling effect" is often used synonymously with the term "libel chill."
Justipedia explains Chilling Effect
There are many things that can create a chilling effect. For example, a decision of a court, a passing of a law or the threat of a lawsuit can all result in a chilling effect.
When a chilling effect occurs, it can make a specific group of people a lot less likely to speak out in some way. This usually happens because people do not want to face some kind of uncomfortable legal consequence such as a lawsuit or fine.