Constitutional Likes


In America, the Federal Appeals Court declared that a Facebook “Like” is now protected by the US Constitutions First Amendment. The “Like” is now considered as a form of speech. For the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va,, Liking a candidate on Facebook should have the same protections as real-life actions that show political support.”Liking a political candidate’s campaign page communicates the user’s approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it,” wrote Judge William Traxler, who authored the opinion. “It is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech.” The case hinged over whether B.J. Roberts, the sheriff of Hampton, Va., illegally fired six of his employees who supported Jim Adams, his opponent in the sheriff’s elections. One of the employees, Former Deputy Sheriff Daniel Ray Carter, had Liked the Facebook page of his boss’ political opponent.
Facebook, the six employees, and the American Civil Liberties Union argued in the case that the like must be viewed as a type of free speech, making the act of firing an employee over a “Like” illegal. The ACLU applauded the decision as well. “This ruling rightly recognizes that the First Amendment protects free speech regardless of the venue, whether a sentiment is expressed in the physical world or online. The Constitution doesn’t distinguish between ‘liking’ a candidate on Facebook and supporting him in a town meeting or public rally,” said Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project in an emailed statement.
If this decision can set precedent to other cases, this might mean that in the future we will start having our +1’s and our retweets or favorites protected under the US constitution as a form of free speech, and would most likely mean that anything regarded as a “Like” on any other social network will be protected in the USA.


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