The American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal brief this week, arguing that “liking” something on Facebook should be protected by the First Amendment.
The ACLU wants to overturn the ruling of a federal judge who said “liking” something on Facebook is not protected speech.
In 2009, a sheriff in Hampton, Virginia fired his employees for "liking" his political opponent’s page on Facebook. He was running for re election, and forced his employees to manage campaign events and buy tickets to campaign fundraisers, according to the appeal. It came to light that his employees had gone to BBQ’s thrown by his opponent and posted comments on the opponent’s Facebook page.
When the sheriff won the election, he fired the employees who had liked his opponent's Facebook page. The employees sued, saying that the sheriff had violated their free speech rights by firing them.
In April 2012, the courts ruled in favor of the sheriff, saying that “liking” a Facebook page is not “substantive enough to merit constitutional protection.”
The employees appealed, inspiring the ACLU to chime in with their support; The ACLU filed an amicus curiae brief in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on August 6.
“Far from expressing personal grievances, plaintiffs were voicing their opinions about the virtues – or lack thereof – of an elected official,” reads the brief. “That some of the comments were made privately, rather than to a public audience, is irrelevant to the public concern analysis.”
"With “one click of a button,” an Internet user can upload or view a video, donate money to a campaign, forward an email, sign a petition, send a pre-written letter to a politician, or do a myriad of other indisputably expressive activities. The ease of these actions does not negate their expressive nature," it reads.
You can read more analysis of the story on the Wall Street Journal.
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