What can a harmless ‘Like’ possibly do? Well it can get you fired! Yes, in a transpiring case, a judge in Virginia ruled that a Like is not protected under the First amendment as a form of expression.
The ruling came after six employees from Norfolk sued their former employer for allegedly firing them for liking their opponent on Facebook. According to the Atlantic, it all began in 2009 during an election season. The employees were working for the Hampton Sheriff’s office under B.J. Roberts, who was running for reelection at the time against opponent Jim Adam.
The sheriff fired the employees on the grounds of budgeting and poor performance however the employees sued the Sheriff on the grounds of violation of their first amendment rights (for liking) that guaranteed freedom of speech and expression. However the lower court judge ruled that Like is not a form of expression as is writing or typing- in Judge’s terms ‘Does not amount to expressive speech’ – and hence is not covered under first amendment.
But isn’t clicking a ‘like’ button like expressing something without uttering a thousand words just like symbolic speech? So if symbolic speech – The expression of ideas which involves only action and not words like wearing arm bands for protest- is covered under freedom of speech why not like?
Further, does this mean that my liking something- which could be defamatory to someone else- can drag me to court too? Please correct me if I am wrong but this is what I conclude out of it.
What do you think? Is like a statement? Do you think it should be protected under the first amendment?
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