This is an interesting article on a topic I had not considered. In the story a worker for one candidate checked on Facebook that he liked the other candidate. When he was fired, he took his former employer to court saying his right to free speech was being violated. The case opens up a whole new discussion of what free speech means in a virtual context. Could “liking” someone on Facebook could be considered harrassment in some circumstances? Could something you say online ever be considered a verbal contract? What does privacy even mean in a world where all the information is interconnected?
Really interesting situation. It seems to me that it is central to this situation that it’s within the confines of a political campaign, and thus it is by definition a zero-sum game: only 1 candidate gets to win a race, while all others lose. In that context, in my non-legal mind, it seems common sense that this isn’t so much a freedom of speech issue on the party of the campaign employee, but more of a freedom of association issue on the part of the candidate.
Agreed. Obviously, a candidate should not have to pay someone on their staff who is endorsing an opponent. The reason I posted it was to think about the issues this case raises in other situations. This court ruled that “liking” isn’t really speech, so it dodged the bullet, but at some point it will be interesting to see if virtual speech has different legal ramifications than actual speech. Thanks for responding. I have always valued your observations as an ethical person I can trust who works in the belly of the beast.
Also consider that the person who was fired was not an employee of the political campaign, but an employee of the office for which the boss was running. It seems to me that the boss was using his position to coerce political support from his (non-political) sub-ordinate.
If “Liking” is not protected speech, because it doesn’t involve any actual statements, then wouldn’t that mean that giving money to a political campaign isn’t protected speech either?
I didn’t realize that part of the story. That certainly would change things. Great points.