Clicking ‘Like’ on Facebook can be viewed in a couple of ways.
If someone posts a good joke, a “like” can mean that you also found humor in the posting.
Whereas, a “like” on a graduation or wedding announcement, can express congratulations.
Still, a “like” on a status protesting war or an article about lowering interest rates on student loans, can show support for an issue.
But one thing “like” is not is protected under the First Amendment, according to a judge in Virginia.
According to recent news reports, District Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that clicking the “like” button on Facebook does not amount to constitutionally expressive speech.
Jackson’s ruling came after several employees of the Hampton, VA., Sheriff’s office were fired because their actions of “liking’ the Facebook page of the Sheriff’s opponent in an upcoming election “hindered the harmony and efficiency of the office,” according to one article.
The judge’s ruling dismissed claims that Roberts improperly monitored the virtual support of several now former employees.
As the Nov. election approached in 2009, Sheriff B.J. Roberts, of Hampton, Va., learned that six of his employees were actively supporting retired chief deputy Jim Adams for sheriff.
These employees had expressed their support for Adams by clicking "Like" on his campaign Facebook page and by attending a barbeque fundraiser on his behalf.
Following a successful re-election bid, Roberts fired several employees, including three uniformed deputies and three civilian workers who supported Adams.
Bobby Bland, Daniel Carter, David Dixon, Robert McCoy, John Sandhofer and Debra Woodward sued Roberts in the Eastern District of Virginia for violating their First Amendment rights.
According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Roberts allegedly called an agency meeting in which he advised sheriff’s office staff to get on the "long train" with him, rather than ride the "short train" with Adams, according to a news report.
Court documents reportedly “Simply liking a Facebook page is insufficient. It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection… Facebook posts can be a matter of public concern; however the Court does not believe Plaintiffs Carter and McCoy have alleged sufficient speech to garner First Amendment protection.”
Should people be able to like whatever they want to on Facebook with no consequence?
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