A federal court of appeals has ruled on Wednesday that a Facebook “Like” is the equivalent of free speech, which is protected by the First Amendment. The ruling was included in a decision published by the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Bland v. Roberts.
Bobby Bland and five of his co-workers in the Sheriff’s Department in Hampton, Virginia are suing their former employer for wrongful termination. Their employer is Sheriff B.J. Roberts and part of the lawsuit depends on whether liking a campaign’s Facebook Page is considered protected speech.
Daniel Carter, one of the plaintiffs, said that he was fired because he liked the Page of a candidate that was running against Roberts in a 2009 election.
Last year, a district court ruled that liking a Facebook Page is “insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.” The appeals court overturned that decision.
By liking a political candidate’s campaign page, it “communicates the user’s approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it,” said the court.