Virginia deputy Daniel Ray Carter Jr. liked his boss’ rival on Facebook. He didn’t like when he got fired for it.
Carter is now heading to court to fight his dismissal. The Virginia deputy says that his Facebook like should have been protected by the First Amendment as free speech.
CNN reports that Carter was fired in 2009 after he gave a virtual thumbs up to the “Jim Adams For Hampton Sheriff” page on Facebook. At the time, Jim Adams was running against Carter Jr.’s boss Sheriff B.J. Roberts. When Roberts saw that his deputy liked another man’s Facebook page, Roberts decided to give him the ax. According to Click Orlando, five other employees were fired for similar offences.
Should a Facebook like be protected under the First Amendment? U.S. District Court judge Raymond A. Jackson doesn’t think so.
According to Jackson, a Facebook like can’t be considered free speech since no one is actually saying anything. Jackson said that a Facebook like was “insufficient speech” and did not warrant constitutional protection.
But Jackson won’t have the final word on the matter. Carter has filed an appeal and expects to hear from the U.S. Court of Appeals next month.
Aden Fine with the American Civil Liberties Union, said:
“The judge is wrong in the sense that the Facebook button actually says the word ‘like,’ so there are actually words being used… And there’s a thumbs-up symbol, which most people understand means they, literally, like something.”
What do you think? Does clicking a button express an opinion? Should a Facebook like be protected by the First Amendment?