Is clicking Like on Facebook Speech?

A judge in Virginia ruled that liking a page on Facebook is not speech. In the case, employees of a Sheriff “liked” the opposition’s Facebook page. When the Sheriff won the election, he fired 6 employees. We don’t know for a fact that the Sheriff fired the employees because they liked the page, so let’s put that aside for the moment.

At issue here is that the judge determined that the action of liking something on Facebook is not speech. I strongly disagree. When one clicks “like” on Facebook, one is making a decision and engaging in a specific action to show approval or for support for something.  After all, if simply choosing to wear a t-shirt with a specific slogan on it can be considered speech, and numerous cases have found it to be so, how can choosing to click like in front of the 850 million people on Facebook be any less of an action?

In addition, I would argue that liking a specific page on Facebook is a form of association. By clicking like; the user is choosing to show everyone on Facebook, publicly, that he or she has chosen to join a group, in this case, a group of people supporting a particular politician.

By the simple act of clicking like on a fan page, people are publicly showing that they stand for or against something. Sure, in many cases, that might be a specific flavor of ice cream, but it also includes supporting Romney or Obama, being for or against the issue of the day, or  associating with a particular religion. If these sorts of statements and associations are not protected under the first amendment, frankly, I’m not sure what would be.

Subscribe to This Blog