Facebook has stepped into a free speech court fight, filing a brief in a Virginia appeals court on Monday, arguing that pressing the Facebook "Like" button is protected by the First Amendment. As Facebook states in the brief:
"Facebook, for itself and its Users, has a vital interest in ensuring that speech on Facebook and in other online communities is afforded the same constitutional protection as speech in newspapers, on television, and in the town square."
The case originated back in 2009, when six Hampton Sheriff's Office employees was fired after pressing the "Like" button on the Facebook page of a candidate running against their boss in an upcoming election. An earlier ruling by a Virginia federal judge found that the action of pressing the "Like" button did not constitute politically-protected speech, so the firing was legitimate. A former sheriff's deputy has appealed, and now both Facebook and the ACLU have filed on behalf of the plaintiff.