Social Business News Wrap | Volume 46

Facebook Likes are Protected by the 1st AmendmentFirst Amendment

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond Virginia ruled this week that Facebook “Likes” must be protected as free speech. The court overturned a lower court’s ruling after a deputy was fired after having “liked” his superior’s political opponent’s campaign on Facebook.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that a U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson in Norfolk had ruled that while public employees are allowed to speak as citizens on matters of public concern, clicking the “like” button does not amount to expressive speech. In other words, it’s not the same as actually writing out a message and posting it on the site.

WebProNews’ Chris Crum reported this week that Facebook and the ACLU both filed briefings in the case. the ACLU had this to say about how a “like” is expressive speech and should be protected:

With “one click of a button,” an Internet user can upload or view a video, donate money to a campaign, forward an email, sign a petition, send a pre-written letter to a politician, or do a myriad of other indisputably expressive activities. The ease of these actions does not negate their expressive nature. Indeed, under the district court’s reasoning, affixing a bumper sticker to your car, pinning a campaign pin to your shirt, or placing a sign on your lawn would be devoid of meaning absent further information, and therefore not entitled to constitutional protection because of the minimal effort these actions require. All of these acts are, of course, constitutionally protected…

Facebook’s 2 Cents:

When a Facebook User Likes a Page on Facebook, she engages in speech protected by the First Amendment…

The district court’s holding that“‘liking’ a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection” because it does not “involve actual statements,” J.A. 1159, betrays a misunderstanding of the nature of the communication at issue and disregards well-settled Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit precedent. Liking a Facebook Page (or other website) is core speech: it is a statement that will be viewed by a small group of Facebook Friends or by a vast community of online users.

When Carter clicked the Like button on the Facebook Page entitled “Jim Adams for Hampton Sheriff,” the words “Jim Adams for Hampton Sheriff” and a photo of Adams appeared on Carter’s Facebook Profile in a list of Pages Carter had Liked, J.A. 570, 578 – the 21st-century equivalent of a front-yard campaign sign.

If Carter had stood on a street corner and announced, “I like Jim Adams for Hampton Sheriff,” there would be no dispute that his statement was constitutionally protected speech. Carter made that very statement; the fact that he did it online, with a click of a computer’s mouse, does not deprive Carter’s speech of constitutional protection.

I think most of us can agree –  even with the ACLU –  on this one. Facebook is one of a myriad of ways that people communicate on a daily basis. It makes communicating your feelings on issues, politics, religion and everything else easier, yes. But, those feelings and speech are no less valid because of the ease with which we share them.

I tend to be very vocal on social media, both politically, religiously and just about every other way. I am blessed that my boss tends to lean the same direction I do in most regards, but I would not censor what I want to express on these issues if he felt any differently, and I feel secure knowing that he would not fire me if I did. I think the use of social media is an extension of our person, and we should use it to help express our view. I don’t think the government has any prevue in regards to speech until it crosses the line into a dangerous type of hate speech, threats, etc. While our world is changing rapidly, we must as a people hold fast to our protections and freedoms.

Twitter for the Rich and Famous

When my kids first became interested in Twitter, waaayyy back in the day, I decided to be the super cool mom who showed them how to follow Ashton Kutcher on Twitter. They were duly impressed. As Twitter grew, and people realized that real celebs were using it, too, the fascination with celebrity personalities grew. I guess the idea that you could tweet a famous actress and she might actually see it is more than some people can resist. Anyway, because of all the celeb watching and tweeting, Twitter has decided that the rich and famous need a way to filter out the peanut gallery so they can just tweet each other without all the noise from fans…

Twitter rolled out “Verified” long ago, to help ensure that the people on Twitter are who they say they are. No one, celebs included, wants to be impersonated on social media, so you can go a verification process to prove you are who you say you are, if you want to jump through the hoops. You have to be important though, so, Joe the Plumber probably doesn’t have a verified account, sadly.

To take the whole elbow rubbing, we are famous and you are not thing to the next level Twitter recently rolled out a filter process that allows verified tweeters to see only the posts of other verified tweeters. Since Twitter is going public, I guess they want to make sure they keep the rich happy…

Tech Crunch has a nice little run down on the whole thing…

Life is hard for famous people. You’re trying to @ reply with your celebrity friends on Twitter, but the conversation gets drowned out by rabid fans and spammers mentioning you. So Twitter’s begun rolling out to people with verified profiles two new filters for the Connect tab. Filtered, which attempts to cut down spam, and Verified, which only shows interactions with other verified profiles.

The Twitter blog had a blurb about it, too, but it didn’t mention how famous you have to be to get verified. I guess it’ll be a while before I get that verified account…

See you next week with a social business post – we’d like to hear what aspects of social business you are interested in, so please drop us a line in the comments. We’ll make sure we touch on those topics as so much of business is becoming “social”.

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