“Liking” something on Facebook has become a regular occurrence for people who enjoy partaking in the many forms of expression that this social media giant has to offer. In fact, many users of Facebook don’t give a second thought to “liking” comments, statuses, celebrities, or their favorite books & movies. Many prolific Facebookers seem to “like” various things in such a subconscious fashion that they have not a care in the world as to the repercussions. No more.
Daniel Ray Carter, Jr. will probably not make that mistake again. Caught up in the cycle of his Facebook routine, he logged on to his account and “liked” a page. Now, that doesn’t sound so bad, you might be thinking… But, then you’d be dead wrong! The problem is that he “liked” a page for Jim Adams, a candidate who was running for the office of sheriff, in Hampton, VA. Normally this would not be a big deal, but Carter actually works for the current Sheriff, B.J. Roberts, who this candidate was running against.
When Sheriff Roberts found out about this “liking” the other candidate’s Facebook page, Carter was promptly fired from his job as a deputy, which is the beginning of this whole debacle. Former Deputy Carter along with the ACLU filed a lawsuit claiming that his first amendment right to free speech had been violated due to his termination. The lower court ruled that “liking” a page is not covered by the first amendment because “actual statements” from Carter were not produced by this action. If this is upheld by the fourth circuit, many are concerned about the fallout from such a decision.
We’ll be watching what happens, but in the meantime, be careful what you “like.”