The little "LIKE" button on Facebook is being DISLIKED by some rabbit-eared government officials. More government employees are being fired and suspended for "Liking" the wrong things on Facebook.
latest episode that appears to be headed to court is the suspension of
three Mississippi safety workers for clicking "LIKE" on a Facebook
posting of a firefighter.
The now former-firefighter
wrote a Facebook post highly critical of the mother of a young child
involved in an accident. After the firefighter resigned under
pressure, the Columbus, MS City Council suspended three safety workers
who "Liked" the post.
This follows on the heels of a
Virginia case now pending in the United States 4th Circuit Court of
Appeals. That case, detailed in a prior post on Law for Writers,
involved sheriff's deputies fired for clicking "Like" on the Facebook
page of the sheriff's opponent in the upcoming election. The District
Court held that clicking the "LIKE" button wasn't sufficient expression
to invoke the protection of the First Amendment.
which receives more than three billion posts and "Likes" a day, has
filed an amicus brief in support of the fired employees, as has the
ACLU. Personal note: the Virginia District Court reflected a remarkable
lack of respect for the First Amendment and the expanse of our rights of
free expression. I expect the 4th Circuit will unanimously reverse the
district court's decision.
The First Amendment is not limited to speech, but covers virtually all expression - including nude dancing, at least in Iowa. (Click here for story, but alas, no photos). In the leading case of Texas v. Johnson, (click here)
the United States Supreme Court struck down the Texas statute
criminalizing flag burning, Justice Brennan writing for the majority,
stated that First Amendment protection "does not end at the spoken or
Michael Doyle with McClatchey Newspapers
has put together an excellent piece discussing the troubling confluence
of the First Amendment, Social Media and Technology. It's well worth
reading. Click Here for his article: "In Facebook court cases, high tech and free speech collide."