First Amendment: Freedom to "Like"

Walter L. - LLI Dayton 

Hard Days Worth of Work

Close your eyes, imagine you just got home from a long stressful day at school or your workplace. You pull your phone out and open up your favorite social media application. To make your day more enjoyable, you scroll to find something that amuses you or sparks a  laugh, and you stumble across a post that makes you laugh and enjoy life a little bit more. Well you are not the only person that laughed, about 88% of people that read that post laughed, 10% of the people saw that post as a form of cyberbullying, and 2% of the people saw it and just kept on scrolling. Afterwards you go to bed, wake up, and get ready for another day in America, but you are stopped by an authoritarian figure, that was in that 10%, who tells you good morning or not so good morning for you because you are suspended for posting a “Like” on a post that was recognized as bullying. As outrageous as this does sound, this really did happen.

This situation occurred at Cañon City High School, and 12 students were disciplined for dropping a “Like” on a post that they thought was funny. The post was quite funny because it was talking about the trend that clowns would come out and scare people. The post states, "The concert choir with all their makeup is the only clowns we got around here.” That post was just a joke that was made by a child that is immature and not developed in the mind like adults, so thinking logically is kind of a challenge students face in high school. This student has the freedom to say whatever he would like, as long as the speech does not cause harm or induces panic to others.

Students should be able to “Like” anything they may please and not receive a consequence for it. 

The control that the schools try to enforce takes the rights away from the students, in this instance the school takes away the student’s first amendment right to free speech.

This situation is unconstitutional and is not the image America wants to portray. America is the home of the free and the home of the brave. If the schools can restrict the students, then the students will go on in life thinking that society can restrict them, and all that leads to is a communist environment - and that is not okay.

Furthermore, if authorities can determine what we can and can’t “Like” then what is the point of free will and being an individual. According to The Federal Courts Law Review:  What is the meaning of “Like”?: The First Amendment Implications of Social-Media Expression, "clicking  'Like' on Facebook constitutes speech, both as pure speech and as symbolic speech.” And, a CNN report says, “A U.S. court appeals gave Facebook a thumbs up...when it ruled that ‘Likes’ on the social network are protected under the first amendment.” In conclusion, do you believe you should get disciplined for liking something that you "like"?


Sources Considered

  • Robbins, Ira P. "What is the Meaning of 'Like'?: The First Amendment Implications of Social-Media Expression." American University Washington College of Law Research Paper, vol. 7, issue 1, no. 2013-14, 2013, pp. 144-147.
  • Kelly, Heather. "U.S. Court Saying 'Liking' Something on Facebook is Free Speech." CNN. 19 Sept. 2013. 
  • "Students Suspended for 'Liking' Racist Instagram Posts Sue School." CBS Sacramento. CBS Interactive. 5 May 2017. 
  • Brown, Ken. "Middle School Student Suspended for 'Liking' Photo of Gun on Instagram." Fox 19 Now. WXIX. 5 May 2017. 
  • Knuth, Sara. "Cañon City High School to Discipline Students for 'Liking' Tweet." Education. The Daily Record. 13 Oct. 2016.
  • Walton, Xavier. "Over 20 NC Students Suspended for Liking Instagram Post." WCNC. 21 March 2017. 
  • Dinzeo, Maria. "Judge Wrestles with School's Handling of Racial Cyberbullying." Courthouse News Service. 27 July 2017.