Go ahead and 'like' away, people, because now you're officially protected by the first amendment to do so.
This week, a federal appeals court said that 'liking' something on Facebook is a "substantive statement" by users and is protected by free speech just like other means of expression. Now, unless you consider yourself a mini-Socrates, you probably never really thought about how something as trivial as 'liking' something on Facebook could fit into the bigger picture of our constitution. So, how did this come about? A bitter fight between a sheriff and his deputies, that's how. Sheriff B.J. Roberts of Hampton, Va., canned Deputy Daniel Ray Carter Jr. and five other employees for 'liking' his rival, Jim Adams, in a 2009 election for sheriff. Carter simply 'liked' the "Jim Adams For Hampton Sheriff" page on Facebook, and when Roberts was re-elected, he got some revenge by firing Carter for his digital show of support for Adams.
So, Carter took Roberts to court, saying that a 'like' should be protected by the first amendment. But a judge in 2012 disagreed, saying, "'liking' a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection."
Carter then hit up the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and got their support.
"'Liking' something on Facebook expresses a clear message—one recognized by millions of Facebook users and non-Facebook users—and is both pure speech and symbolic expression that warrants constitutional protection," wrote the ACLU in a statement. "Although it requires only a click of a computer mouse, a Facebook 'Like' publishes text that literally states that the user likes something … [and] is, thus, a means of expressing support—whether for an individual, an organization, an event, a sports team, a restaurant, or a cause."
The federal appeals court agreed with Carter this time around, saying that 'liking' something on Facebook is the “Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech.”
Now that's something to 'like'.