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Free Speech

  1. Remember, That Famous Voltaire “Quote” About Free Speech Was Written By a Woman

    I will defend to the death your right to be properly cited.

    The importance of free speech has been a salient and frequent talking point in the cultural zeitgeist for the last few months, so it's more than likely that you've seen somebody tweet or update their Facebook status with the iconic phrase, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." But do you know where that line actually comes from? Because it sure as hell wasn't Voltaire.

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  2. YouTube Denies White House Request to Remove Clip Behind Libyan Protests

    YouTube walks a fine line between hate speech and protected speech. The problem exists in determining between what constitutes unpopular speech and what's outright hatred. The clip that ostensibly caused the protests in Libya that resulted in attack on the United States consulate is one of these items. After a request from the White House to review whether the video violated YouTube's terms of use, the video giant refused to take it down.

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  3. Judge Rules Likes Are Not Protected As Free Speech

    Better be careful what you go around liking on Facebook because according to a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson, likes are not protected speech under the First Amendment. The whole case dates back to 2009 when after winning a reelection bid, Hampton Virginia Sheriff B.J. Roberts fired six of his employees who had liked his opponent's page on Facebook. The employees filed suit, arguing that their First Amendment rights were violated. Though you might be inclined to agree, Judge Raymond Jackson does not.

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  4. Why Is It That Legislators Think Basic Rights Don’t Apply On The Internet?

    When it comes to Internet activism and Internet discussion of law in general, you're bound to find a lot of people arguing for "freedom." Freedom to do what they want, freedom to say what they want, and freedom to be anonymous about it. Now, you might say (and many do): "That's because they're all a bunch of thieves and bullies who want to keep stealing and bullying." And to an extent, you might be right. The other reason though -- the main reason -- is that basic rights are almost constantly under attack whenever the Internet is involved. Legislators in Arizona, for instance, want to (and think they can) outlaw obscene, lewd or profane language on the Internet, punishable by a $250,000 fine and up to six months in jail. May I suggest you all engage in a bout of self-fornication?

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  5. Twitter Can Now Censor Tweets in Order to Comply With Local Speech Laws

    Twitter has gained something of a reputation as being a tool for social change, after its prominence in the disputed Iranian elections in 2009, the Arab Spring of 2011, and as a growing piece of the political discussion in this country. Key to this has been Twitter's universality; a Tweet from Tehran or Cairo can appear to anyone around the world. Now, Twitter has announced new changes that will allow them to hide tweets in countries with differing interpretations of "freedom of expression." Yeah, that pretty much sounds like censorship.

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  6. Supreme Court Rules Video Games are First Amendment Protected Free Speech

    Ladies and gentlemen, the Supreme Court has finally ruled with a 7-2 vote that video games are indeed (awesome? art?) a form of free speech and therefore are protected by the first amendment. The whole mess started way back in 2005 when California passed a law that prohibited the sale of mature-rated video games to minors under penalty of a $1,000 fine. This, of course, was hotly contested on free-speech grounds until it made its way to the Supreme Court and to this final and wonderfully logical conclusion.

    Ars Technica quotes the decision:
    Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. California’s claim that 'interactive' video games present special problems, in that the player participates in the violent action on screen and determines its out-come, is unpersuasive.

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  7. Facebook Posts by Employees are Legally Protected Free Speech, Federal Ruling Finds

    Huge news in the realm of social media: The National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency charged with safeguarding employees' rights and holding employers accountable for their labor practices, has ruled that employees' use of Facebook is legally protected free speech under many circumstances, even when it expresses negative sentiment about their employers. The ruling came in response to the case of a medical technician named Dawnmarie Souza, who was unhappy that her supervisor would not let her get assistance from a union representative in responding to a customer's complaint. Souza reportedly "using several vulgarities" to mock her supervisor on Facebook and compared him to a psychiatric patient; her co-workers chimed in, leading to "further negative comments about the supervisor." While Souza did all this on her own time and on her own computer, her employer ultimately fired her over these Facebook posts; per the NLRB's ruling, this firing was illegal. The board compared protected speech on Facebook to water-cooler discussion around the office:

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