Popular Trump supporters Diamond & Silk say Facebook censored them as part of conservative censorship on the social network.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg headed to Washington to deal with the controversies swirling around his social network, including privacy, protection of data and election security. He even had notes ready for the subjects he expected lawmakers to throw at him.
Diamond and Silk weren’t among his scribbles.
In one of several curveballs thrown at the billionaire, senators and representatives hit Zuckerberg with questions about the two African-American Trump supporters who have gained a following among Republicans. The questions were prompted by Facebook’s removal of several videos posted by the North Carolina duo, who came to prominence during the 2016 presidential campaign and are among the handful of people the president follows on Twitter.
Multiple legislators wanted Zuckerberg to address what happened to Diamond and Silk’s videos, part of a larger inquiry into whether Facebook and, more broadly, Silicon Valley stifled the views of conservatives. At least five members of Congress used their limited time — senators got five minutes of questions apiece, while representatives got four — to inquire about possible curbing of conservative voices, particularly those of the energetic sisters.
“Why is Facebook censoring conservative bloggers such as Diamond and Silk?” Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, wanted to know. “That is ludicrous.”
Zuckerberg said his team had made an “enforcement error,” a concept he trotted out more than once when explaining Facebook decisions. The social network was already in touch with Diamond and Silk, he promised.
Diamond and Silk might not quite be household names, but you’d never know that from their website. The ebullient self-promoters are “Vloggers, Bloggers, Public Figures & Speakers. Internet Sensation, Radio & TV Personality,” according to their website’s About Us page. “Last but not least they are President Trump’s most Outspoken and Loyal Supporters.”
Their birth names are Lynnette Hardaway (that’s Diamond) and Rochelle Richardson (aka Silk), according to a Rolling Stone profile, and they’re outspoken in their support for the president. They’re also sure Facebook is censoring them.
On Monday night, the pair appeared on Fox News and accused Zuckerberg of “turning Facebook into a political playground for Democrats.” They tweeted out a message they’d received from Facebook informing them that their “content and brand has been determined unsafe to the community.”
….Facebook. Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 3:40 PM: “The Policy team has came to the conclusion that your content and your brand has been determined unsafe to the community.” Yep, this was FB conclusion after 6 Months, 29 days, 5 hrs, 40 minutes and 43 seconds. Oh and guess what else…
— Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) April 7, 2018
Diamond and Silk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did Facebook.
Like other social media platforms, Facebook is important to Diamond and Silk. Their page has more than 1.4 million followers, and their YouTube channel — it’s called The Viewers View — boasts more than 142,000 subscribers. Their Twitter account has 641,000 followers and is one of just 45 followed by the president.
The pair say they’ve been discussing “bias censorship” by Facebook against them since Sept. 7, 2017. A response on April 5 said Facebook considered them “unsafe.”
That rankled congressional Republicans, starting on Tuesday when Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, invoked the sisters to launch an aggressive inquiry into Facebook’s political leanings.
“To a great many Americans, that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias,” Cruz told Zuckerberg. “Do you agree with that assessment?”
Zuckerberg told Cruz that Facebook doesn’t censor content based on political views, though he acknowledged that Silicon Valley, where his company is headquartered,