Facebook 'Like' button is free speech right: US court

Sep 19, 2013
The side of Facebook's Like Button logo displayed at the entrance of the Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, California on May 18, 2012

Hitting the "Like" button on Facebook is an element of free speech protected by the US constitution, a federal court ruled Wednesday, in a case closely watched by employment lawyers.

The US Court of Appeals based in Richmond, Virginia, made the judgment in the case of a Virginia sheriff's department worker who claimed he was fired for exercising his —in this case "liking" a political opponent of his boss.

"His conduct qualifies as speech," the court said in a 81-page decision that sent the case back to a lower court for review of those issues.

"In sum, liking a 's campaign page communicates the user's approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it.

"In this way, it is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one's front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech."

The American Civil Liberties Union and Facebook both filed legal briefs supporting the view that the "Like" button is protected speech.

The ACLU brief said "liking" something on Facebook "expresses a clear message—one recognized by millions of Facebook users and non-Facebook users—and is both pure speech and symbolic expression that warrants constitutional protection."

Explore further: Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Facebook 'like' in court over free speech

Aug 09, 2012

Freedom of speech on Facebook is at the heart of an appeals court case in Virginia involving an elected sheriff who fired staff members who "liked" his rival on the social networking site.

Experts unlike ruling in Facebook speech case

May 04, 2012

(AP) -- The "like" button on Facebook seems like a relatively clear way to express your support for something, but a federal judge says that doesn't mean clicking it is constitutionally protected speech.

Austrian court ends Facebook ban for broadcaster

Jul 26, 2013

(AP)—Austria's Constitutional Court has overturned a ruling blocking state broadcaster ORF from having Facebook pages, disagreeing with complaints from private media that it gave the outlet an unfair competitive edge.

Twitter files appeal in Occupy Wall Street case

Aug 27, 2012

Twitter on Monday filed an appeal of a court order to turn over tweets from one of its users being prosecuted over Occupy Wall Street protests, in a case being watched for free-speech implications.

Recommended for you

Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

8 hours ago

UK Independence Party (UKIP), the British anti-European Union party, has ordered a crackdown on the use of social media by supporters and members following a series of controversies.

Sony saga blends foreign intrigue, star wattage

8 hours ago

The hackers who hit Sony Pictures Entertainment days before Thanksgiving crippled the network, stole gigabytes of data and spilled into public view unreleased films and reams of private and sometimes embarrassing ...

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

Dec 18, 2014

The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.