Do You “Like” Free Speech On Facebook?

“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.”

The full stories can be found on Tecca and Yahoo.

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.

The Facebook Password Ethical Dilemma Hits Albany

To follow up yet again on the Facebook password issue (see posts from April 11th and March 24th),

If Albany County Legislature Chairman Shawn Morse has his way, employers won’t be able to look at things potential employees post on Facebook. Unless, it’s done publicly.

Morse says he plans to introduce legislation that would ban county employers from asking for prospective employees’ social media account passwords.

The full story from the Times Union can be found here.

Lawmakers Heed Facebook’s Ethical Advice

Following up on a prior post (March 24th), Maryland has quickly enacted legislation prohibiting employers from asking for social media passwords, and it looks like Congress may be stirring on this issue, too: 

If you’re worried about an employer or potential employer asking for your Facebook or Twitter password, you might just want to move to Maryland. The state’s General Assembly has become the first to pass a bill to keep social media passwords safe from employers.

Just a few weeks ago national attention was put on the issue of job applicants and employees being asked for their Facebook passwords so that companies could ensure the individuals had appropriate social media identities.

In response, New York Sen. Charles Schumer and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate if the practice violates federal laws.

The full ABC News story can be found here.  Maybe the fired elementary school teacher’s aide should move to Maryland.

A Duty of Loyalty for Make Benefit the Glorious Nation of China

From the Guardian, Chinese lawyers must now swear loyalty to the leadership of the Communist Party:

China‘s justice ministry has ordered lawyers to take an oath of loyalty to the Communist party in an unusual move that has drawn condemnation from lawyers worried about the government’s attempts to rein them in.

The ministry issued a notice on Wednesday demanding that first-time applicants and lawyers who want to renew their licences have to take the oath.

I promise to faithfully fulfill the sacred mission of socialism with Chinese characteristics … loyalty to the motherland, its people, and uphold the leadership of the Communist party of China,” lawyers must say.