Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Facebook 'Like' Ruled Protected by 1st Amendment

A federal appeals court in Virginia has ruled that the act of "liking" a political candidate's campaign on Facebook is protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In the case before the appeals court, former employees of a sheriff's office said they lost their jobs as a result of supporting a political opponent of their boss by endorsing the opponent's campaign page on Facebook. “Liking a political candidate’s campaign page communicates the user’s approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it,” U.S. Circuit Judge William Traxler wrote in the appeals court decision. “It is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech.” The ruling was also a win for Facebook, which had argued before the appeals panel that the “Like” feature is vital to 500 million people who share ideas on the social network and must have free-speech protection. For the actual court opinion, go to http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/121671.P.pdf. For a Bloomberg news report with background and reaction, see http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-18/facebook-like-is-protected-speech-appeals-court-says.html

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