Facebook "Likes" Aren't Speech Protected by the First Amendment, Rules Judge

Academic: Eric Goldman

Source: Ars Technica

April 28, 2012

Professor Eric Goldman, Director of Santa Clara High Tech Law Institute, comments on Ars Technica article about Bland v. Roberts, 2012. In this case the plaintiffs alleged they engaged in protected activities when “liking” a Facebook page that belonged to their boss’ opponent for sheriff. The court concluded that a Facebook like is not speech.

Here are a few excerpts from Professor Goldman’s comments:

Oh man, the technological implications of social media sure does baffle the judicial system. What does it mean to "friend" someone? What does it mean to "like" something? Most judges seem to want to curl up into a ball when posed with such thorny questions. Could you imagine a judge trying to grok what a Facebook "poke" means?
Listing a person's name as an endorser of a political candidate is core First Amendment activity. That's exactly what the "likes" did here.

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