Legal battle to protect the Facebook “Like”

An appeals court in Richmond is considering whether a Facebook “Like” is protected speech under the U.S. Constitution. A district court had ruled earlier this year that the “Like” is not protected. A sheriff’s officer had “liked” the Facebook page of his boss’ opponent and was fired after the election. The ACLU and Facebook are now supporting the efforts to overturn the ruling of the lower court. I was interviewed on this issue by WNYC and by The Christian Science Monitor this week.

Please listen to the entire radio interview on WNYC. The following is an excerpt from the article “Could ‘liking’ something on Facebook get you fired?” by The Christian Science Monitor:

Public employees also have the right to express themselves online, but are typically not allowed to publicly campaign while at work, says Marcus Messner, a journalism professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond who specializes in social-media research. Mr. Messner says he does not expect Jackson’s ruling to be upheld but says if it is, “it will change how people interact on social media.”

“If this ruling is upheld, employees have to be worried that a very basic communication on a social-media platform can lead to their firing,” he says. “Most people know they should not be talking bad about their job or boss, but to have a political expression in your private life lead to your firing – I think that would change how we communicate online.”

Please also read an earlier interview with the Associated Press.

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