William Hazlitt once said, “When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest”.
If there’s one trendy ‘rich and famous’ that this philosophy reminds us of, its facebook. Rife with controversies ever so often, facebook’s popularity only seems to be rising with every hullaballoo. Patent infringement cases that this social networking site has been facing over the years are nothing new, but what’s sparked a fresh interest is the most recent one. The family of a deceased Dutch programmer has challenged facebook in the courts for infringing upon the “like and share” buttons and the “timeline” feature that was patented for by the Dutch Joannes Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer in 1998.
While facebook has its ways and means to end this tale and move on, the “controversy” lurking behind the “like” button seems to be keeping courts and the common man on their toes. Back in May 2012, a Virginia court ruled that people “liking” on facebook are not covered by the protection of the First Amendment! This tussle started with a sheriff firing a couple of his employees for liking his opponent’s facebook campaign on the social networking site, and soon found facebook jumping into the legal battle to protect its users only to hear from a federal judge – “Simply liking a Facebook page … is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection.”
Well, while it does seem that protection under the First Amendment is stronger when posting what’s on your mind rather than liking something similar, now it’s a question of whether using the “like” button itself could haul you up until facebook resolves the infringement case!
(Featured image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Facebook_like-hang-tag.jpg)