Security

Using Facebook's Like button does not fall under 'protected speech'

A judge rules that Facebook's Like button is not "protected speech."

Well, just when you thought the legal ramifications of Facebook usage couldn't get more exhausting, here comes another bizarre twist.

Six employees say Sheriff B. J. Roberts of Hampton, VA, fired them for supporting an opponent in his 2009 re-election bid. The workers sued, saying their First Amendment rights were violated. One of the workers clicked Like on the opponent's Facebook page. Unfortunately, it's that guy's case that's hitting a speed bump. Because he didn't actually say anything.

Public employees are allowed to speak as citizens on matters of public concern, but Judge Raymond A. Jackson of Federal District Court ruled that clicking the Like button did not amount to protected speech because no words were involved. He wrote "Simply clicking a button is different and does not warrant First Amendment protection."

Clearly, I'm going to have to reconsider some of my favorite emoticons.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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