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A public figure is a person of great public interest or fame, such as a politician, celebrity, or sports hero. The term usually used in the context of libel and defamation actions, where the standards of proof are higher if the party claiming defamation is a public figure and therefore has to prove disparaging remarks were made with actual malice.
A person may also be considered a "limited purpose" public figure by having thrust themselves to the forefront of particular public controversies in order to influence the resolution of the issues involved. The determination is made on a case-by-case basis, taking the particular facts into account.