Facebook’s ‘Like’ button: Free speech?

Recently, a federal judge in Virginia made an important ruling that could have a deep and lasting impact on Facebook users, and more importantly, the First Amendment.






Judge Raymond Jackson of Virginia ruled that six former employees of the Hampton, Va. Sherriff’s office, who were fired for hitting the “like” button on the Facebook page of their boss’ opponent in a 2009 election, does not count as free speech.

Jackson ruled that “liking” a message is not free speech.

One side of this argument says that you should be free to share, post, and comment on any article or content you wish, without fear of reprimand from the government or from an employer. There is “no question” the “like” button should count as free speech, says Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA.

The counter-argument is that while Facebook posts are constitutionally protected speech, those cases are actual statements, according to the Judge. “Simply clicking a button is different and does not warrant First Amendment protection,” he wrote.

So, what do you think? Should the “like” button on Facebook be included in your First Amendment rights? Or, should the act of clicking the button to display your preference make you vulnerable to drastic actions from employers, government and the police? Share your thoughts, below.



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