“Daniel Ray Carter, Jr., was employed as a deputy sheriff in Hampton, Virginia. During the election season when his boss, Sheriff B.J. Roberts, was running for reelection, Carter (and some of his co-workers) expressed support for Robert’s political opponent by ‘liking’ his campaign Facebook page. Upon learning of this, Roberts terminated the employees who had ‘liked’ his opponent’s page claiming the terminations were based on budget cuts and disruption of office dynamics.”
Carter and his co-workers sued, arguing they were fired instead for exercising their right to free speech under the First Amendment, but their claims were dismissed. Attorney Kelly Craven (Pillsbury) explains:
“The district court found that ‘liking’ a Facebook page was not speech, rather it was ‘one click of a button.’ The judge drew a distinction between this ‘click’ and cases where courts had extended constitutional protections to Facebook posts in which actual statements had been made.”
In plain English: Carter didn’t say enough for his opinion to be consider “speech.” And that’s precisely where the lower court went wrong. Again, Kelly Craven:
“[T]he circuit court flatly disagreed. Citing several Facebook company postings … the court declared it apparent that the conduct of ‘liking’ [the sheriff’s] campaign page unmistakably qualifies as speech: ‘That a user may use a single mouse click to produce [the] message that he likes the page instead of typing the same message with several individual key strokes is of no constitutional significance.’”
So there you have it – one click is indeed worth a thousand words, at least as far as the Constitution is concerned. What’s not to like about THAT?
- Free Speech Protection for Facebook “Likes” by Public Employees - Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
- "Like" It Or Not, Court Rules Facebook Activity Is Protected Free Speech – XpertHR
- What’s in a “Like”? Precedent-Setting Case Poses New Risk for Employers – Littler
- Facebook “Like” Is Protected First Amendment Speech - Looper Reed & McGraw, P.C.
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