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Are your "likes" protected under free speech?
superstar4410
Member #926
January 2001
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http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Facebook-Like-Sheriff-Hampton-Virginia,news-15123.html

Quote:

Judge: Clicking 'Like' on Facebook Is Not Protected Speech
1:32 PM - May 8, 2012 - By Kevin Parrish - Source : The New York Times

A judge denied the Free Speech claims of six former employees who said they were fired for "likes" on Facebook.

This story begins with six individuals who "liked" a particular person on Facebook. This act is the virtual expression of an opinion -- Facebook users either like a specific subject, or move on to find something else worth approving. But in this case, their "opinion" led to employment termination, a resulting lawsuit claiming wrongful termination based on Free Speech, and the concluding rejection of their lawsuit.

So how can a "like" get someone fired? For one thing, the six individuals were employed by Sheriff B. J. Roberts of Hampton, Virginia, and back in 2009, these individuals "liked" the Facebook page of his re-election opponent, Jim Adams. Sheriff Roberts reportedly doesn't use Facebook, but grew angry once he discovered the "likes" after someone mentioned them during a staff meeting. The Sheriff soon terminated their employment citing hindrance of "the harmony and efficiency of the office." Can't really blame him, to be honest.

Shortly thereafter, the fired workers retaliated by filing a lawsuit against Sheriff Roberts, claiming that he violated the First Amendment. But there's a small problem with the case: they didn't actually write anything. Public employees are allowed to speak as citizens on matters of public concern, but pressing the "like" button doesn't equal to expressive speech, or at least that's what Judge Raymond A. Jackson of Federal District Court ruled on April 24.

In his ruling, Judge Jackson acknowledged other Facebook-related lawsuits where posts were ruled to be constitutionally protective speech. But in this case, there were no "actual statements" involved. Simply clicking a button is different and does not warrant First Amendment protection.

James H. Shoemaker, a lawyer for one of the dismissed workers, disagrees and plans to file an appeal. Marcus Messner, a journalism and mass communications professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, also doesn't think the issue will end with the current judgment, that the matter will probably have to be settled by a higher court.

"Going to a candidate’s Facebook page and liking it, in my view, is a political statement," Messner said. "It’s not a very deep one, but you’re making a statement."

In defense of the six fired workers, Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, makes an excellent point: the thumbs-up gesture is a symbolic expression protected by the First Amendment. Didn't Facebook actually use the thumbs up symbol for "likes" at one point? Regardless, clicking the "like" link is even more clearly expressive because it generates actual text on a computer screen.

"It is conveying a message to others," Volokh told The New York Times. "It may just involve just a couple of mouse clicks, or maybe just one mouse click, but the point of that mouse click, a major point of that mouse click, is to inform others that you like whatever that means."

So what did we learn here? Never "like" the boss' enemy.

Don't take yourself too seriously, but do take your responsibilities very seriously.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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I thought the "rights" provided by the government applied to the government itself, i.e. the government can't oppress your speech when criticizing some policy of theirs, etc. An individual should be able to fire somebody just because he wants to, no reason needed. If this individual is seriously wrong, then his business will suffer one way or another.

Nothing matters and what if it did

_Kronk_
Member #12,347
November 2010

I thought the "rights" provided by the government applied to the government itself, i.e. the government can't oppress your speech when criticizing some policy of theirs, etc. An individual should be able to fire somebody just because he wants to, no reason needed. If this individual is seriously wrong, then his business will suffer one way or another.

I agree, but that's not what happened:

employed by Sheriff B. J. Roberts

Quote:

"liked" the Facebook page of his re-election opponent, Jim Adams

Quote:

"Going to a candidate’s Facebook page and liking it, in my view, is a political statement," Messner said. "It’s not a very deep one, but you’re making a statement."

Government employment, not private.

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Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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It never occurred to me whether the Bill of Rights etc. applied to local governments.

Nothing matters and what if it did

van_houtte
Member #11,605
January 2010
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hide your kids, hide your wife and dont post too much on facebook.

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Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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The whole thing is ridiculous. I don't see why it should be protected as free speech. This kind of stuff happens all the time, and the only reason it's getting any traction is because it's Facebook.

verthex
Member #11,340
September 2009
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I thought the "rights" provided by the government applied to the government itself, i.e. the government can't oppress your speech when criticizing some policy of theirs, etc. An individual should be able to fire somebody just because he wants to, no reason needed. If this individual is seriously wrong, then his business will suffer one way or another.

No you have to realize that because of sept 11th 2001 everyone is a terrorist without due process and you have no constitutional rights whatsoever. The sheriff in my opinion should be fired btw for violating first amendment rights because he created more problems by firing his workers and setting up his office for a lawsuit anyways. Isn't that hinderence?

bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
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I think it's certainly anti-democratic to fire people for siding against you in a public election, and should probably be illegal. I guess it would fall under freedom of speech too (among other things). "Liking" something doesn't even necessarily mean you align with the original author. Sometimes you like things for completely different reasons. Sometimes you're drunk and are just liking things because you're feeling "good". :P

At the same time, I think people do need to be careful about what they expose through social networking. Perhaps social networks should ideally keep the identities of "likes" secret to all (or all except the OP, or give the OP, or the liker, control over who can see it). Perhaps ideally people shouldn't use social networks at all. I think ultimately they're anti-social networks. :)

Append: For all intents and purposes the OP basically plagiarized the OP. :P At least wrap it in <quote> tags so that it's clear that it's not your work...

Bob Keane
Member #7,342
June 2006

If burning the American flag is protected under the First Amendment, why not "liking" someone on Facebook?

I thought the "rights" provided by the government applied to the government itself, i.e. the government can't oppress your speech when criticizing some policy of theirs, etc. An individual should be able to fire somebody just because he wants to, no reason needed. If this individual is seriously wrong, then his business will suffer one way or another.

No, the Constitution applies everywhere in the U.S, even the workplace. Check your employment policies. A company will give you a hearing if they believe disciplinary action must be taken. One of the reasons unions are liked by employees and despised by management is that they try to enforce the Constitution.

It never occurred to me whether the Bill of Rights etc. applied to local governments.

One of the conditions for statehood is that the territory have some sort of written law. Most states, with the exception of Louisiana adopt or use the Constitution as a model. The fired employees may be suing under the wrong pretense though. They should try retribution.

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Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

Public employees are allowed to speak as citizens on matters of public concern, but pressing the "like" button doesn't equal to expressive speech, or at least that's what Judge Raymond A. Jackson of Federal District Court ruled on April 24.

I don't really get it. I guess pressing the "like" button isn't technically speech, but it is indeed an expression of approval. How come speech, of all forms of self expression, receives special treatment? ???

verthex
Member #11,340
September 2009
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Public employees are allowed to speak as citizens on matters of public concern, but pressing the "like" button doesn't equal to expressive speech, or at least that's what Judge Raymond A. Jackson of Federal District Court ruled on April 24.

So I guess painting a swastika on that sheriffs head and posting it on facebook would be not considered free speech either.

Stas B. said:

I don't really get it. I guess pressing the "like" button isn't technically speech, but it is indeed an expression of approval. How come speech, of all forms of self expression, receives special treatment?

Because kings are dictators and have too many rights to treat peasants like shit. Go learn some history.

superstar4410
Member #926
January 2001
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quotes added,

Sorry for the confusion, I pasted the article for those who wanted to read it and did not want to click the link. So for those quoting me, that is not my opinion or perspective necessarily its just the article pasted to stimulate discussion.

Don't take yourself too seriously, but do take your responsibilities very seriously.

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

verthex said:

Because kings are dictators and have too many rights to treat peasants like shit. Go learn some history.

What are you talking about? What does that have to do with what I said? ???
I'm just wondering if the fired workers would have had a case had they expressed support for the sheriff's opponent in speech. If so, how come speech gets special treatment while other forms of self-expression don't? If not, then why not just rule that the boss is free to fire workers that express a lack of supprot? Basically, the judge chose not address the crux of the matter at all and just closed the case over a technicality. ???

verthex
Member #11,340
September 2009
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Stas B. said:

What are you talking about? What does that have to do with what I said?

I know what I'm talking about I took my constitution test with a class and got an A. You must not have any understanding of western civilization.

Your question shows you're ignorant about the subject. Its very basic and fundamental.

Do you know what the Magna Carta is?

I'll just answer it for you.

THERE IS NO TECHNICALITY AND THE RULING IS BULLSHIT! Its unconstitutional. The supreme court can hear the case if they want to.

LennyLen
Member #5,313
December 2004
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Ignore Verthex. As usual, his ranting has nothing to do with the subject that everyone else is discussing.

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

verthex said:

I know what I'm talking about I took my constitution test with a class and got an A. You must not have any understanding of western civilization.

Your question shows you're ignorant about the subject. Its very basic and fundamental.

Do you know what the Magna Carta is?

I'll just answer it for you.

THERE IS NO TECHNICALITY AND THE RULING IS BULLSHIT! Its unconstitutional. The supreme court can hear the case if they want to.

That's right. I'm ignorant. I don't have any understanding of western civilization. I don't have any understanding of anything that has to do with human beings. Why don't you help educate me by actually addressing something of what I wrote instead of bragging about how you got an A on a constitution test? ::)

Bruce Perry
Member #270
April 2000

These people were only fired. They weren't arrested. Isn't free speech more to do with protecting people from unfair arrest?

Also - if you fire someone, and they sue you for it, and they win, you still save money compared to if you keep them on and continue to pay their salary (assuming their work doesn't add value, and disregarding the effects of any publicity). For what it's worth.

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Matthew Leverton
Supreme Loser
January 1999
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Isn't free speech more to do with protecting people from unfair arrest?

That was probably the original intent of the First Amendment.

verthex
Member #11,340
September 2009
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Stas B. said:

That's right. I'm ignorant. I don't have any understanding of western civilization. I don't have any understanding of anything that has to do with human beings. Why don't you help educate me by actually addressing something of what I wrote instead of bragging about how you got an A on a constitution test? .

Because that would start out with a lecture about the fertile crescent in Mesopotamia around 12 bc and move to Jerusalem around 2000-0 BC/AD and then to Europe for about 14 hundred years and then to America for about 6 hundred years. The reasons why America was "invented" came from the rulers of the British Monarchy at the time around the 17th century. It would take too long.

Its the fact that you don't know history is what makes you unable to answer your own question. Knowing histroy in the first place would allow you to know that.

Not understanding that the constitution declares basic rights that are guaranteed is pretty hard to do so that must mean you are just trolling.

A basic right is something that has no further basis, its fundamental. Thats what you have trouble seeing. Plus you're not a US citizen.

LennyLen said:

Ignore Verthex. As usual, his ranting has nothing to do with the subject that everyone else is discussing.

You never add anything to the discussion and you always say this. I think of you as nothing but an troll as usual. Hows minecraft for you, can you live in it? Thats your world and some idiot named notch ripped of your stupid ass and keeps you ignorant.

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

verthex said:

Because that would start out with a lecture about the fertile crescent in Mesopotamia around 12 bc and move to Jerusalem around 2000-0 BC/AD and then to Europe for about 14 hundred years and then to America for about 6 hundred years. The reasons why America was "invented" came from the rulers of the British Monarchy at the time around the 17th century. It would take too long.

Its the fact that you don't know history is what makes you unable to answer your own question. Knowing histroy in the first place would allow you to know that.

Not understanding that the constitution declares basic rights that are guaranteed is pretty hard to do so that must mean you are just trolling.

A basic right is something that has no further basis, its fundamental. Thats what you have trouble seeing. Plus you're not a US citizen.

Are you honestly stupid or are you deliberately missing the point...?
As far as I know, basic human rights include the freedom of speech but also the more general freedom of expression. I'm just trying to make sense out of this story.

Basically, there are three possibilities:

1. The employees would have had a case had they used speech to express themselves instead of the "like" button. (Freedom of speech can protect you against your boss but freedom of expression can't? How come?)

2. The employees would have lost the case either way. (No right can protect you against your boss if you hold an opinion he doesn't like. Why not just say so, then? How is it relevant that in this particular case the means to upset the boss was a "like" button?)

3. The employees would have had a case had they sued the boss for violating their freedom of expression rather than their freedom of speech. (By analogy, if a man is charged with murder but it turns out to be manslaughter, will he be acquitted and have another trial?)

Neither of these make sense to me and I don't see a fourth option. :-/

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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I simply think that a "basic right" is something that a rational being will believe is correct no matter what the prevailing political opinion is at the moment. For instance, you have the basic right to defend yourself against an aggressor using deadly force, because if you don't do it, your death is at least as bad as what a court of law can do anyway.

I believe an employer should be able to fire anybody he wants, for whatever reason, just as I believe an employee can "fire" the boss (by quitting). If there's a contract of some sort to ensure compensation if one of the parties reneges, that's a different story.

Nothing matters and what if it did

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

I simply think that a "basic right" is something that a rational being will believe is correct no matter what the prevailing political opinion is at the moment. For instance, you have the basic right to defend yourself against an aggressor using deadly force, because if you don't do it, your death is at least as bad as what a court of law can do anyway.

As far as I know, the freedom of expression is a basic human right and as a rational being, surely you would agree that it is "correct" regardless of the prevailing political opinions. Sometimes it's just in conflict with somebody else's rights.

Quote:

I believe an employer should be able to fire anybody he wants, for whatever reason, just as I believe an employee can "fire" the boss (by quitting). If there's a contract of some sort to ensure compensation if one of the parties reneges, that's a different story.

For example, should an employer be able to fire me if he doesn't like jews and finds out that I'm one? Should an emplyer be able to fire me for holding a certain political view? Hold some very unpopular views? Express them all you like... at the expense of not being able to keep a job. ::)

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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Stas B. said:

As far as I know, the freedom of expression is a basic human right and as a rational being, surely you would agree that it is "correct" regardless of the prevailing political opinions. Sometimes it's just in conflict with somebody else's rights.

That reminds me of an old joke, an elderly Jewish couple was being executed by a firing squad in WWII, and Levi bursts forth with bitter invective "You scurvy dogs will surely be in the worst pits of Hell, along with your sons and daughters blah blah blah" and the wive interjects "Levi! Please! Don't make trouble!".

Quote:

For example, should an employer be able to fire me if he doesn't like jews and finds out that I'm one? Should an emplyer be able to fire me for holding a certain political view? Hold some very unpopular views? Express them all you like... at the expense of not being able to keep a job.

I seem to have failed a job interview because the foreman took an instant dislike to me, boo hoo. He probably instinctively recognized me as someone that marches to the beat of a different Pepsi, and he was a facist asshole. You'll never legislate irrational emotions out of existance. If someone fires you for being a Jew, go work for Ben Bernanke.

Nothing matters and what if it did

Jonatan Hedborg
Member #4,886
July 2004
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Stas B. said:

For example, should an employer be able to fire me if he doesn't like jews and finds out that I'm one?

Personally I'm undecided on the question. Would it really be better to work for an asshole who doesn't want you there? In an ideal world, it would be a self-regulating problem where assholes gets put out of business due to public opinion/low quality work force.

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Dennis
Member #1,090
July 2003
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In an ideal world, it would be a self-regulating problem where s gets put out of business due to public opinion/low quality work force.

Yes but in reality that stuff never happens and the assholes always prevail leaving a long trail of destruction behind them. :-/

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