Are Facebook 'Likes' a Form of Free Speech?

Tech 2012/08/12 19:41:50
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Political speech is protected under the first amendment, but there is growing debate regarding what exactly that means in today’s technological world. Is a single click of the mouse worthy of constitutional protection? U.S. District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson thinks not. But, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Facebook are fighting to defend this form of free speech.

During a 2009 sheriff election, Hampton, Va. deputy sheriff Daniel Ray Carter decided to “like” the Facebook page of his employer’s political opponent. After the election, when his boss was re-elected, Carter and five other employees who opposed or did not actively support the incumbent sheriff were fired.

Carter decided to sue and in January his case was thrown out by Jackson who argued, “Merely ‘liking’ on a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.” Now, Carter is appealing and the ACLU and Facebook are getting involved.

Both groups have submitted briefs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th circuit. In the briefs, they have attempted to demonstrate the political power of a single click. They point out that around 3 billion “likes” and comments are made on Facebook every day and also cite other ways the mouse-click can be used as a form of political expression: re-tweeting, signing a petition, donating to a campaign, etc.

“Pressing a ‘like’ button is analogous to other forms of speech, such as putting a button on your shirt with a candidate’s name on it,” Rebecca K. Glenberg, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia, told the Washington Post. Similarly, the Facebook brief describes the “like” as “the 21st century equivalent of a front-yard campaign sign.”

What do you think SodaHeads? Are Facebook “likes” a form of free speech?

Read More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/a-facebo...

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  • NNNkW 2013/04/06 01:07:11
  • Bite my shiny metal ass 2012/10/21 18:10:57
    Bite my shiny metal ass
    Nobody really cares......
  • johnpaul.collantes.3 2012/10/02 05:46:40
    Yes, because in here, by just 'liking', you are simply expressing yourselves to the very limit that you just might have never done in any ways before: that is the principle of free speech.
  • johnpau... johnpau... 2012/10/02 05:52:37
    Of course, every rule comes with an exception; but it's no big issue here. Simple, because clicking 'like' shows your deepest feeling, and even 'commenting' on issue that have great impact to you, that does not have to affect you; it's just an expression.
  • Margaret Jacobson 2012/10/01 05:03:09
    Margaret Jacobson
    Nobody is twisting my fingers !!!
  • emily_knockout 2012/08/15 22:34:54
    Yah,you can like anything you want.
  • ☆ QueenAline 2012/08/15 01:30:59
    ☆ QueenAline
  • No One 2012/08/15 00:20:57
    No One
    Yes of course and if it is considered too minor to be protected by the first amendment then it is also too minor to warent being fired. The first amendment says freedom of speech not, "freedom of big speech." The only things that do not count as free speech are things like yelling, "FIRE" in a theater or inciting a riot. There is no exception based on how minor the speech is.
  • dandieselonian 2012/08/14 23:31:25
    I want to see a crotchbook
  • texasred 2012/08/14 23:29:10
    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a "like" is a form of free speech. My God, fire someone for liking an opponent? That isn't just stupid; it's criminal. I'd be very surprised if this Judge Jackson isn't a liberal activist judge.
  • MOMMA THOMAS 2012/08/14 22:15:58
  • Anita 2012/08/14 19:12:45
    I feel free when posting in FB.
  • LILY 2012/08/14 16:11:02
    yuppp >>>>>>>>>>>LIKE<<<<<<<<<<<<
  • Michael S. 2012/08/14 15:14:18 (edited)
    Michael S.
    ALL speech is protected by the First Amendment. Congress shall make no law...period. This judge has a woefully broken understanding of the Constitution. In his haste to support the sheriff's department, he totally missed the real reason why the firings were Constitutional, if unethical: Just because you can say whatever you want without legal repercussions, that does not mean your employer cannot take offense and fire you. Now, the firings might be illegal for other reasons, such as statutes demanding political impartiality of government employers, but that's a totally different story.

    Oust him, and seat me, or anyone who's not a total idiot for that matter. Sheesh.
  • Daniel O'Hern 2012/08/14 14:06:35
    Daniel O'Hern
    U provide a tremendous outlet for anger with up our system and freedom of speech which is what this country is all about
  • redhorse29 2012/08/14 07:02:38
  • star 2012/08/13 23:31:34
    I like free speech and I like Facebook.
  • star star 2012/08/13 23:32:15
    I meant yes LOL
  • Stacee 2012/08/13 21:25:17
    It's an opinion, therefore the individual has a right to 'like' a status ^.^
  • Mog of War 2012/08/13 20:51:25
    Mog of War
    All verbal and non-verbal communication is protected as free speech. The issues in electronic media are Simple, what makes it complex are people who try to make it seem like it's not simple so they can limit people's rights in a new medium.
  • Temlakos~POTL~PWCM~JLA~☆ 2012/08/13 20:14:45
  • ~TheDreamer~ 2012/08/13 19:23:13
    Sure. It's basically saying "Yea. I agree"
  • Vic F 2012/08/13 19:22:03
    Vic F
    they are a form of free speech...so is saying the alphabet..

    yes, that's free speech as well...and the alphabet is 1000 x as more useful than a facebook "like"
  • KG 2012/08/13 18:26:24
    It is absolutely speech, and therefore protected by the 1st amendment.
  • lee 2012/08/13 17:58:16
    if that one click is what got him fired, it was the "click heard around the world"

    political speech is protected speech now matter what form it takes (short of the usual curbs on threats of violence, et. al.)

    and for a government official to be taking punitive actions against his employee like this, that is classic censorship.

    this judge was wrong.

    that's why it matters who you elect, because often they get to appoint these judges.
  • NOT14U2 2012/08/13 17:58:07
    A district court judge supports local law enforcement before an individuals civil rights.
    this will go to a higher court soon where the decision will be overturned surely
  • rocker1446 2012/08/13 17:50:20
    No, only because there isn't a dislike option.
  • Mog of War rocker1446 2012/08/13 20:42:45
    Mog of War
    That's the matter of the medium's owner exercising his free speech rights to decide what can and cannot be don in his medium. That does not nullify the rights of those operating in that medium.
  • Lakota Deviant 2012/08/13 17:36:00
    Lakota Deviant
    It's the equivalent of writing out "I LIke ___". Just because you don't type it out doesn't mean you aren't expressing an opinion through a pre-made message of "I like this". You forward an e-mail with just a click of a button, you agree to contracts online stating you agree to the terms and conditions with a click of a button. Technology allows us to say things without having to literally say or type or write anything and should be protected free speech.
  • Tastentier 2012/08/13 17:11:46 (edited)
    In this case, yes. But ironically, Facebook's lack of a "Dislike" button is the antithesis of free speech. You either send positive feedback or you don't get to say anything at all. It's a great analogy to political correctness.
  • Headhunter 13 2012/08/13 16:40:51
    Headhunter 13
    They are idiocy just like the entire facebook idea. Nothing more than imaginary digital friends
  • Mog of War Headhun... 2012/08/13 20:43:23
    Mog of War
    If you do not believe in the freedom of speech that is idiotic, you do not believe in freedom of speech at all.
  • Headhun... Mog of War 2012/08/13 23:09:04
    Headhunter 13
    Now why would you even ask a stupid ass question like that. Probably because you are a facebook moron.
  • Mog of War Headhun... 2012/08/22 22:42:51
    Mog of War
    What I said wasn't even a question. It was a statement, also known as a declarative sentence. If you're going to be insulting people's intellect, especially in elevating your own above a certain class of people, you better indicate that your intellect actually exceeds theirs, and not demonstrate their level of grammatical skills.
  • brian.southworth.921 2012/08/13 15:54:49 (edited)
    Sure, it is an assent of approval. It is like raising ones hand in cyberspace to say, "Yes, I like this". Then your identy is known as one who likes a thing which is almost like signing a petition. And what is speech but a form of communication. By clicking the "I like it" button you are communicating, via social media, a form of communication to others that it is something you agree with or like. To finish, would you like to have your right to click"like" for your favorite things on Facebook taken away to prevent this sort of thing again? It might seem like a small thing, but at its heart it is a form of free speech. And when you think about the new computerized voting machines, aren't you in essence doing the same thing when you vote??? Should that count?
  • SOUL4REAL 2012/08/13 14:22:38
    Yes,facebook is a form of freedom to type and cyber bullying too,they hide behind a computer! 90% of the people on facebook have fake profile pictures and names! Yes,clicking the "Like" button is a form of freedom to decide,not speech!
  • politicalsoldier 2012/08/13 14:21:12
    Yep. Free speech. Period.
  • alex 2012/08/13 14:15:15
    You're expressing your opinion by agreeing with a post via liking it.
  • lucky 2012/08/13 12:59:19
    No but the actions of the employees should be covered under something else. If "Like" is set up as a form of free speech i can see a ton of problems that could cause in the future for website owners.
  • Mog of War lucky 2012/08/13 20:46:05
    Mog of War
    How so, please explain! What problem could protecting a click as free speech POSSIBLY cause to a website owner. A website owner can regulate content on his site without violating the 1st Amendment rights of his users; the first Amendment only prevents the government from punishing you for what you "like."

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