It should go without saying that you should be careful of what you “like” on Facebook. You should try not to “like” anything embarrassing or incriminating, lest it come back to bite you. A judge has ruled that “liking” something on Facebook doesn’t protect you under the First Amendment, which is bad news for at least one man in Virginia. Six people sued Sheriff B J Roberts in Hampton VA after he fired them. They say he fired them for supporting his opponent in his re-election bid, which would be a violation of their First Amendment rights. One of the six fired, Daniel Ray Carter, “liked” the Facebook page of Roberts’ opponent. Roberts claims that either fired them for poor performance or because supporting his opponent “hindered the harmony and efficiency of the office”. Judge Raymond A Jackson acknowledged that other cases involving written messages on Facebook protected the speaker with the First Amendment, but that clicking the “like” button is different and doesn’t warrant protection. A lawyer for the defence already said that they’d appeal the decision. This seems to be similar to the debate over whether or not Retweets are endorsements on Twitter, which leads to a lot of journalists including lines such as “RTs don’t equal endorsements” in their bio. Not everyone agrees the explanation’s necessary, and the debate can get a little ridiculous. The notion of a “like” implies an endorsement, but it’s also the only way to subscribe to updates from a particular page. I hope that this won’t lead to people writing, “’Likes’ don’t equal endorsements” in their profiles.
5 May 2012
The Atlantic Wire
As quoted by Yahoo News
President Clinton appointed Judge Jackson in 1993, which means that he’s a “Democratic” judge. No doubt, Judge Jackson and Sheriff Roberts are old political pals (if not pals in a social sense, too… Judge Jackson did graduate from a Tidewater college, after all). Remember, William Jefferson Clinton was one of the last of the Yellow Dog Dixiecrats… an almost-extinct breed at present. That is, most Dixiecrats were Democrats by party affiliation, but were reliably “conservative” in being pro-business and anti-union, along with being jingoistic, pro-“Family Values”, and nativist (with a strong streak of racism thrown in for good measure). Don’t forget, both James Carville and George Stephanopoulos were Clinton operatives, and neither one of them were (or are) defenders of social justice or social equity. The Clinton administration was the last hurrah of the “conservative” Dixiecrats… ergo, any of his appointees (especially in the South) could be “Good Ol’ Boys”, and so, this ruling isn’t surprising. Look for a higher court to strike this down… but the damage’s done… all government employees will be careful about what they post online, and that’s a shame.