Hitting “Like” on Facebook gets free-speech protection

By Christopher B. Daly 

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History keeps happening. Now, a U.S. appeals court has ruled that the activity of hitting “Like” on a Facebook is a form of expression that deserves free-speech protections under the First Amendment.

An earlier ruling in a lower federal court went the other way. But on Wednesday (9/18), the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond reversed and said an employee who “liked” a political candidate was engaging in political speech and therefore cannot be punished by his employer.

From the AP story in today’s Boston Globe:

Facebook and the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed friend of court briefs in the case, applauded Wednesday’s ruling.

‘‘The Constitution doesn’t distinguish between ‘liking’ a candidate on Facebook and supporting him in a town meeting or public rally,’’ said Ben Wizner of the ACLU .

This ruling seems not only common-sensical, but it also seems to right a terrible wrong: when the Supreme Court said that spending equals speaking, that gave rich Americans a tremendous advantage in the competition to make points in the public sphere. This ruling says that using Facebook is a form of speaking, too, so it deserves protection.

The First Amendment lives. Let’s keep it going.

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1 Comment

Filed under First Amendment, Supreme Court, Uncategorized

One response to “Hitting “Like” on Facebook gets free-speech protection

  1. David

    Consider for a moment both:
    1.What happens when a minority student, employee or citizen reports that a supervisor, teacher or police chief is constantly posting virulently racist comments, many advocating violence and find the response of “We will ensure that does no their workplace behavior” lame? The ACLU certainly will not help them.

    2. Why the enormous outrage over NSA is not nearly matched by outrage of surveillance by employers, Google, Facebook, data miners, etc, all of which affect the average person much more than the NSA?

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