What’s the Latest Development?
Last week, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Facebook likes were protected under the First Amendment by siding with a group of workers who claimed they were fired for liking the Facebook page of their boss’ election opponent. The firing, which involved Daniel R. Carter and five other employees, took place after B.J. Roberts won the Hampton, VA sheriff’s race in 2009. All six filed suit against the department, but Carter was the only plaintiff who attempted to bring social media into the mix.
What’s the Big Idea?
While Facebook posts have First Amendment protection as ruled by previous courts, the suit was dismissed in district court in 2012 because the judge deemed Facebook likes “insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection” and, as such, they couldn’t be considered “actual statements.” The unanimous reversal by the appellate court says there’s no distinction between the two: “On the most basic level, clicking on the ‘Like’ button literally causes to be published the statement that the user ‘likes’ something, which is itself a substantive statement.”
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