Should Facebook ‘Likes’ Be Protected as Free Speech?

Facebook wants you to “like” what they’re doing in the battle for free speech; they believe that “likes” should be protected under the 1st Amendment.

The social media networking site, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed an amicus brief supporting fired employees of the Hampton Virginia Sheriff’s Office this week with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia this week. They want to overturn a ruling in May by District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson, who said in his ruling that “merely ‘liking’ a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.”

The controversy stems from the firing of six employees from the Sheriff’s Office allegedly because they liked a Facebook page of a political opponent.

Facebook disagreed with the ruling in its filing, saying in a statement,

“Liking a Facebook Page (or other website) is core speech: it is a statement that will be viewed by a small group of Facebook Friends or by a vast community of online users.”

The ACLU concurred with Facebook, praising them for standing up for 1st Amendment rights. They wrote in their statement: “Facebook has become a means of communication for tens of millions of Americans, and if basic activity on Facebook such as ‘liking’ were denied First Amendment protection, the free expression of ideas that the First Amendment is meant to safeguard would be severely limited.”

Expect this battle for Facebook “likes” to go all the way to the Supreme Court. Should the ruling go against Facebook, the ACLU and the hundreds of millions of Facebook users in the United States, it means that any “like,” whether it’s granted to a politician, your favorite musician or a side on a divisive social issue can and will be used against you by your employer.


Should a Facebook “like” be considered free speech? Tell us below.