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A Facebook 'Like' is not constitutionally protected speech, says judge

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A District Judge has ruled that "liking" something on Facebook is not protected under the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

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A District Judge has ruled that clicking "like" on Facebook does not warrant protection under the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The decision came in a case where Daniel Ray Carter, an employee under Sheriff B.J. Roberts of Hampton, Virginia, was fired after "liking" the Facebook page of Robert's political opponent, Jim Adams. The court did not accept that clicking the button amounted to expressive speech, and should not be treated as such.

Judge Raymond Jackson wrote that "merely 'liking' a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection." He also added that in "cases where courts have found that constitutional speech protections extended to Facebook posts, actual statements existed in the record." The ruling had been criticized by some who claim that 'liking' something is a clear indication of opinion, especially in the context of politics. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argues that "just because the internet and social media tools are new, that does not mean they should be treated differently from more traditional forms of communication." It's likely that the matter will have to be resolved by a higher court.