A federal appeals court said Wednesday that Facebook users who employ the "Like" feature to show support for a political candidate engage in legally protected speech.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a former deputy sheriff in Hampton, Va., who claimed that he had lost his job in retaliation for "liking" the Facebook page of a candidate running against his boss for city sheriff.
"Liking a political candidate's campaign page communicates the user's approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it," Chief Judge William Traxler wrote for a three-judge panel of the Richmond, Va.-based appeals court. "It is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one's front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech."