Is a Facebook “Like” Protected Speech?

A recent case in Virginia, Bland v. Roberts, 2012, saw employees of the Hampton, Virginia Sheriff’s department fired “for cost cutting purposes”, though the employees believed they were actually terminated for “liking” their boss’s opponent for re-election.

They sued, saying that their First Amendment Rights were violated, but lost the case when the court concluded that “liking” a facebook page is insufficient speech to qualify for constitutional protection.  In this Ars Technica article, lawyer Venkat Balasubramani and law professor Eric Goldman argue that this interpretation of the First Amendment fails recognize the ways that political activism has changed in the past few years, as well as analyzing exactly what a Facebook “like” can mean.