Facebook "Likes" Now First Amendment Protected, As Rehtaeh Parsons Image Used In Ionechat Ad
This is exactly what the forefathers had in mind.
On Wednesday, a federal court ruled that hitting "Like" on a Facebook page is an expression of free speech, and is thus safeguarded by the First Amendment. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit waged by ex-deputy sheriff Daniel Carter, who had "Liked" his boss' competitor for city sheriff, and had been fired for it. Facebook said in a statement that they were "pleased" to have finally been recognized by the Constitution, having presumably seen it as an important step to world domination.
Written text on Facebook, and indeed anywhere online, has long been protected under the First Amendment as free speech. But merely clicking on the "Like" button, being an action rather than a mode of speech, was more problematic — until this ruling. The court has set up a new precedent for what "liking" something means, so listen up: it's the "Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech.”
Remember that time you "liked" the Facebook page "Let's Eat Grandma/Let's Eat, Grandma! Punctuation Saves Lives?" Yeah, that was funny (and, to your mind, very important) at the time, but think about what this means when you're being held to everything that you've "Liked" on Facebook: are you willing to stand beside your statement that punctuation saves lives? On a more serious note, it sets the precedent for employment tribunals like the ex-deputy sheriff's, meaning that you have a legal right to "like" whatever you want and not be penalized for it.
The deputy sheriff (and the five others who joined him the lawsuit) hasn't officially won or lost his case yet, but if he does then all six could re-take the jobs.
But it's still been a mixed day for Facebook, who were slammed for allowing dating site Ionechat to run an advertisement beside a photograph of Rehtaeh Parsons. Parsons committed suicide in April after her alleged gang-rape went viral on the Internet, and Parsons was heavily bullied as a result.
Facebook immediately apologized, and vowed to never work with Ionechat again. "This is an extremely unfortunate example of an advertiser scraping an image from the Internet and using it in their ad campaign," they said in a statement. Meanwhile, Parsons' father had the last word, in Salon: "This is my daughter, Rehtaeh. They have her in an ad for meeting singles. I don’t even know what to say.”