Facebook 'Like' is protected free speech under First Amendment says US court
The US Fourth Circuit Court of appeals ruled last Wednesday that a 'like' on Facebook is protected as "free speech" under the US First Amendment.
Mr. Carter, a former deputy sheriff, claimed that he was fired for 'liking' the Facebook page of a man who was running against his boss for the position of sheriff in the 2009 elections in the city of Hampton, Virginia.
The Circuit Court in the appeals procedure found that 'liking' the campaign on Facebook is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one's front yard. On a broader level, this means that a 'like' on Facebook or similar social media is protected as "free speech" under the First Amendment. The fact that a user may use a single mouse click to produce the message that he likes something instead of typing the same message with several key strokes is not relevant in this regard.
The Circuit Court thus reversed an earlier decision taken at first instance by the District Court where it was decided that the Facebook 'like' was insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.
To access the Fourth Circuit court's decision of 18 September 2013 in the case of Bland v. Roberts, 730 F.3d 368 (4th Cir. 2013; as amended Sept. 23, 2013), please contact me.
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Author: Bart Van Besien
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