Facebook and Free Speech: Are Your "Likes" Protected?

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Are Your Actions On Facebook Protected?

Take a look at the following quotes from this story and see if you aren’t a little surprised.

In rural Mississippi, two firefighters and a police officer are serving 30-day suspensions because they hit “like” on a controversial Facebook post.

In Virginia, a sheriff’s department employee said he was fired for “liking” a page sponsored by the sheriff’s political rival. One federal appellate court already is being asked to weigh in; others surely will follow.

A trial judge concluded last April that “merely ‘liking’ a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.”

My first thought was that anything I do on Facebook should be protected by the First Amendment. However, there are some instances which cause one to pause and think. Cyber bullying is becoming more common in schools today and school administrations have used evidence found on social media websites to suspend and expel students. Is this ok?

Where do the lines of protected speech end when it comes to Facebook and other social media websites? Is a group dedicated to unseating the President protected? How about a Facebook group seeking to overthrow the government? Where is the line drawn? What about if these plans are executed?

The story is worth a read and the questions are worth a discussion. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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