Here’s an update on the case of those plaintiff-employees who were fired for liking an elected sheriff’s opponent on Facebook, where a US District Court found that likes weren’t protected under the First Amendment:
Now, in the 4th US Court of Appeals, the ACLU and Facebook have filed amicus briefs in support of the five plaintiffs. The ACLU wrote, “Liking” a political candidate on Facebook—just like holding a campaign sign—is constitutionally protected speech. It is verbal expression, as well as symbolic expression. Clicking the ‘Like’ button announces to others that the user supports, approves, or enjoys the content being ‘Liked.’ Merely because ‘Liking’ requires only a click of a button does not mean that it does not warrant First Amendment protection.”
Facebook, too, filed an amicus brief “to explain how Facebook operates and thus to provide additional background that may illuminate the nature of the speech interests at stake in this case.” Maybe that sounds condescending, but several legal scholars (including those published on Ars) were genuinely surprised at the District Court’s original ruling, saying that “simply liking” something actually reflected a message of endorsement in many places on the Facebook ecosystem.