Washington - In a potentially far-reaching ruling on the rights of internet communications, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that clicking on the Facebook Like button is protected free speech under the US constitution.
The ruling came in a case in which a sheriff's deputy claimed that he was fired for liking the campaign page of his boss' opponent.
A lower court ruled against deputy Daniel Ray Carter Jr in January 2012, saying that "liking" didn't rise to the level of protected speech.
But in its ruling on Wednesday the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.
"[Liking] is the internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one's front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech," the three-judge panel wrote in an 81-page opinion.
Facebook had filed a friend of the court brief in the case, noting that its users register more than 3 billion likes and other comments every day.