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Are Your Facebook Likes Free Speech?

Ed Oswald | Aug. 10, 2012
Facebook has joined the ACLU in arguing that users’ likes on the social networking site should be a protected form of free speech. In separate filings with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., lawyers argued that a ruling that refused to provide protections to those who like something on Facebook was wrong.

Supervisors can and should expect a certain amount of loyalty from their employees. Jackson mentioned that in his original opinion, saying previous rulings have held that political allegiance to the sheriff was a lawful job requirement for employment.

Carter and McCoys actions could be considered insubordination, which is a fireable offense at any job. The only gray area here is the political aspect of it all, which is protected free speech.

Watch What You Say and Do on Facebook

Nobody knows how this case will end up, but Facebook users should be smart when theyre liking and commenting on content on the site, and take into account who can see that content.

Employees have protection barring the use of Facebook for hiring and firing decisions in Illinois and Maryland. Other places including Washington, Delaware and New Jersey, are considering similar laws, but they have yet to become law.

Carter and McCoys biggest mistake was failing to lock down their Facebook profiles, which allowed their employer to find out their actions. The appeals court must now decide if this is an issue of workplace protocol, or actual free speech.

For more tech news and commentary, follow Ed on Twitter at @edoswald, on Facebook, or on Google+.


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