Remember that case where the guy got fired for liking the “wrong” political candidate on Facebook? Well, good news for people who think a Facebook like should be considered an act of free speech. Today, a federal court ruled that Facebook likes are protected by the first amendment.
Last year, a Virginia judge ruled the opposite in a case where Deputy Sheriff Daniel Ray Carter of Hampton, Virginia “liked” the page of “Jim Adams for Hampton Sheriff.” Carter’s boss, Sheriff B.J. Roberts, saw this, and then when Roberts won the election against Adams, Carter was fired. Carter claimed it was the Facebook “like” that led to his termination. He sued, but the judge determined that a “like” is not protected free speech.
Carter appealed the decision, and got Facebook on board to help argue that a like is free speech just like a political bumper sticker is.
The ruling has now been overturned. Here’s the whole 81-page decision (via The Wall Street Journal):
What is basically comes down to is that pressing the like button to show that you like something on Facebook is no different than if you had actually typed the words “I like this.” You know, basic speech as it would be conveyed through a computer or other device.