“Likes” are free speech — at least according to Facebook, which recently filed a legal brief in support of Daniel Ray Carter and a group of workers who were fired from a Virginia sheriff’s office after they “liked” their boss’s political opponent on Facebook.
Facebook jumped into the legal fray after a federal District Court ruled that “[s]imply liking a Facebook page is insufficient [to qualify as free speech]…It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection.”
Facebook’s brief states that “If Carter had stood on a street corner and announced, ‘I like Jim Adams for Hampton Sheriff,’ there would be no dispute that his statement was constitutionally protected speech…Carter made that very statement; the fact that he did it online, with a click of a computer mouse, does not deprive Carter’s speech of constitutional protection.”
Are Facebook “likes” free speech? Probably. Should Carter have been fired for his “like”? Probably. Just because you can say something, does not mean that there are no consequences.
This certainly will be an interesting issue to follow.