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Facebook 'Likes' Aren't Protected Speech 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-like-a-fire-in-a-crowded-theater dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In what may win awards for the silliest-sounding lawsuit of the year, a case about whether Facebook 'likes' qualify for free speech protection under the First Amendment has ended in a decisive 'no.' In the run-up to an election for Sheriff, some of the incumbent's employees made their support for the challenger known by 'liking' his page on Facebook. After the incumbent won re-election, the employees were terminated, supposedly because of budget concerns. The employees had taken a few other actions as well — bumper stickers and cookouts — but they couldn't prove the Sheriff was aware of them. The judge thus ruled that 'merely "liking" a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection. In cases where courts have found that constitutional speech protections extended to Facebook posts, actual statements existed within the record.'"
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Facebook 'Likes' Aren't Protected Speech

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  • What the hell? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 28, 2012 @07:24PM (#39834139)
    So you if you like the Facebook page of a person or organization your employer disagrees with you can legally be fired?
  • Re:What the hell? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Saturday April 28, 2012 @08:13PM (#39834361)

    The court really does appear to have held that "liking" a post isn't speech with sufficient content to even count as speech in the first place, and therefore the court didn't have to look into the question of whether it was really the reason for the person being fired.

    That seems very bad and clearly wrong, since it would mean that these kinds of expressions of support could actually be regulated by the federal government, if the First Amendment doesn't apply at all. Expressing your support for something is definitely a kind of expression.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 28, 2012 @09:42PM (#39834881)

    Damn right. Since when is volume or weight a deciding factor for First Amendment protection?

    In my understanding, ALL speech is assumed to be free from censorship unless the government has a compelling case for limiting it, based on the overriding protection of others' safety or rights.

    That a judge can simply say, "nope, not substantial enough" is deeply disturbing.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @06:03AM (#39836531) Homepage Journal

    it just sounds like the court was friends with the sheriff and wanted to shuffle the issue under.

    I mean, what the fuck? firing someone for showing support for a candidate and then denying that a fb like is a show of support? if it's enough to show a clear correlation that liking on fb == fired, then it's pretty clear that it was "speech" as far as the sheriff was concerned, since it prompted an action.

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