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Facebook 'like' is protected by 1st Amendment, appeals court rules

Facebook 'like' is protected by 1st Amendment, appeals court rules
"Liking" a political candidate on Facebook is a form of speech protected by the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court says. (Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images)

The next time you click "like" on Facebook, know that you are exercising your freedom of speech.

A federal appeals court in Virginia ruled Wednesday that the act of "liking" a political candidate's campaign on Facebook is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

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In the case, former employees of a sheriff's office said they lost their jobs as a result of supporting their boss' opponent by endorsing a campaign page on Facebook, according to Bloomberg.

"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," Judge William Traxler wrote, according to Bloomberg. "It is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one's front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech."

The decision reverses that of a lower court's, which had ruled that pressing "Like" did not warrant constitutional protection.

"We are pleased the court recognized that a Facebook "like" is protected by the 1st Amendment," Pankaj Venugopal, Facebook's associate general counsel, said in a statement.

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