Let’s be consistent
From Unc I read how a man was fired from his job for “liking” a Facebook post.
Daniel Ray Carter Jr. logged on to Facebook and did what millions do each day: He “liked” a page by clicking the site’s thumbs up icon. The problem was that the page was for a candidate who was challenging his boss, the sheriff of Hampton, Va.
That simple mouse click, Carter says, caused the sheriff to fire him from his job as a deputy and put him at the center of an emerging First Amendment debate over the ubiquitous digital seal of approval: Is liking something on Facebook protected free speech?
I think most people would agree that yes it is free speech, it should be protected. You are expressing your opinion. To “click Like” is merely a shortcut/shorthand for saying “I like this” or “I agree with this” or some other statement of agreement and affirmation. It’s just a more efficient (lazy?) way to do it. Are we saying that if someone typed a comment under the posting “I like this” that that wouldn’t be protected? or if I wrote it on a piece of paper, or spoke it aloud in a public venue for others to hear? So why wouldn’t clicking “like” be offered the same protection under 1A?
But apparently not:
The interest was sparked by a lower court’s ruling that “liking” a page does not warrant protection because it does not involve “actual statements.” If the ruling is upheld, the ACLU and others worry, a host of Web-based, mouse-click actions, such as re-tweeting (hitting a button to post someone else’s tweet on your Twitter account), won’t be protected as free speech.
Methinks someone in the lower court doesn’t quite understand technology advancements.
“We think it’s important as new technologies emerge . . . that the First Amendment is interpreted to protect those new ways of communicating,” said Rebecca K. Glenberg, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia. “Pressing a ‘like’ button is analogous to other forms of speech, such as putting a button on your shirt with a candidate’s name on it.”
So isn’t that interesting? Our Founding Fathers never could have imagined this thing called the Internet. They could never have imagined Facebook or Twitter or iPhone’s. They could never have imagined the act of pressing with your finger could act as a proxy for expressing your liking something. But just like they understood technology advancements like clay tablets, papyrus paper, quill pens, moveable type, printing presses, pony express, and so on… they probably understood that technology would continue to advance. I’m sure they wanted speech to be protected regardless of the technology used to convey it. Certainly that’s what it seems the WaPo, the ACLU, and others put forth. I know many people will be outraged if these advances in technology would not be upheld as protected under that 200-year old document written by men that (some day) had no clue.