Originally published: May 6, 2012
Last updated: May 6, 2012 - 12:43pm
Before you click that "like" button in Facebook, you should know that a judge in federal court asserted that this is not protected under the 1st Amendment.
In what boils down to a wrongful termination case (Bland vs. Roberts) brought before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, four former employees of a sheriff up for reelection claimed that they were fired after, among other things, he discovered that they "liked" his opponent's campaign page on Facebook. "According to the Plaintiffs, after learning of their support of their opponent, the Sheriff called a meeting in which he informed his employees that they should get on the 'long train' with him rather than riding the 'short train' with his opponent," according to court documents. In citing other cases of protected speech on Facebook in his decision, the judge notes that, unlike the simple act of clicking "like," actual statements were made. "The key question is, is the act of 'liking' something of Facebook, does that express an opinion or thought," said Aden Fine, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in an interview with The Times. "It certainly does. The mere fact that you're pressing a button to express that view or opinion instead of saying those words doesn't make a difference."
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