Not long ago our Supreme Court decided that corporations donating money to political campaigns was considered protected free speech under the First Amendment. The case is known as Citizens United and the decision left quite a few people scratching their heads … because the court first had to decide that corporations are essentially people in order to gain protections under the First Amendment.
Well, another speech case in Virginia now has people scratching their heads. The case involves Facebook ‘likes’ and protected speech under the First Amendment. In case you live in a cave and have never been on Facebook:
The Like button lets a user share your content with friends on Facebook. When the user clicks the Like button on your site, a story appears in the user’s friends’ News Feed with a link back to your website.
In the Virginia case, Judge Raymond A. Jackson concluded that merely ‘liking’ a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection according. Judge Jackson reasoned that since there are no ‘statements’ made when clicking the ‘like’ button there is no First Amendment protection.
“No such statements exist in this case. … Simply liking a Facebook page is insufficient. It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection.”
It seems that this Virginia judge has either taken an incredibly narrow view of ‘speech’ in our digital age – or he needs to get a Facebook account! For more information on the story, click here. For the ACLU‘s latest brief to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, click here.