Privacy Issues Drive People Away from Facebook & “like” is a Protected Expression
Privacy Issues Drive People Away from Facebook & “Liking” Page is Protected Speech
A study conducted in Austria revealed some details about why more and more people are choosing to
delete their Facebook accounts. The study found that the number one reason people give up Facebook
is because they are worried about their online privacy. Meanwhile, judges have ruled that clicking the
“Like” button as the equivalent of posting a political sign; in other words, clicking “Like” is a legally
protected form of free speech.
SocialBakers previously reported that millions of users are leaving Facebook each month. A study in
Austria analyzed 300 users who were still actively using Facebook and 300 other users who chose to
stop using the networking site to understand what drives people to quit the site.
Brenda K. Wiederhold is the Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.
Wiederhold said, “Given high-profile stories such as WikiLeaks and the recent NSA surveillance
reports, individual citizens are becoming increasingly more wary of cyber-related privacy concerns.”
This is leading some people to give up their profile on the highly popular social networking site
A survey conducted by Stefan Stieger, a psychologist at the University of Vienna, showed that nearly
half of the participants said they left Facebook because of issues involving privacy. Worries about
privacy was the biggest reason for quitting Facebook. Other reasons included the social pressure users
felt about adding more friends on their profiles, data protection issues, the belief that the conversations
had on Facebook were shallow, a loss of interest and the concern that the user was addicted to Internet
The study attempted to profile people who chose to quit the website and determine why. The study
concluded that people who quit Facebook have higher addiction scores, are more likely to be male and
are older in age. Additionally, they are more “conscientious” and show more concern about online
privacy. The study concluded that personality traits such as these are indirect factors that may influence
the person's decision to no longer use Facebook.
Despite people leaving Facebook, the website is still incredibly popular and now judges are ruling the
“Like” feature as a constitutionally protected form of free speech. In Richmond, Virginia, employees
sued Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts for wrongful termination during his re-election in 2009. The
employees argued Roberts had violated their First Amendment rights. Roberts had fired employee
Daniel Ray Carter for “liking” the Facebook page of Roberts' opponent Jim Adams. Roberts argued the
action, “hindered the harmony and efficiency of the office.”
In April 2012 in Norfolk, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that the “like” button is not
equivalent to free speech because it is not the same as the act of writing a post and publishing it on the
Internet. However, on Wednesday, the 4th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled that the
“like” button acts like a political campaign sign placed at a person's home.
In other words, the court ruled that clicking “like” on Facebook is protected free speech under the First
Amendment of the Constitution.