Mark Zuckerberg has 99 problems — and the black female Trump supporting duo Diamond and Silk is a big one.
Republican lawmakers repeatedly referenced the outspoken sisters from North Carolina during the Facebook CEO’s two-day session before members of Congress this week. The adamant Trump supporters have repeatedly highlighted how Facebook has censored and discriminated against the Diamond and Silk page, which was officially shut down by the company this week.
Lynnette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson contend they received a message from Facebook April 5 that deemed “your content and your brand has been determined unsafe to the community” and the move to ban the sisters is “final and it is not appeal-able in any way.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz pressed Zuckerberg about the censorship, and broader allegations that Facebook systematically discriminates against conservative viewpoints.
“There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship,” Cruz said, reading off numerous examples of reported censorship of conservative views, including coverage of CPAC, Mitt Romney, IRS scandals, and Glenn Beck.
He also pointed out Facebook has shut down pages linked to conservative causes and personalities, “and most recently blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk’s page, with 1.2 Facebook followers after determining their content and brand were ‘unsafe to the community.’”
“To a great many Americans, that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias,” Cruz said. “Do you agree with that assessment?”
Zuckerberg dodged the direct question, and instead insisted “this is actually a concern that I have and that I try to root out in the company is making sure we don’t have any bias in the work that we do …”
On Wednesday, several lawmakers in the House also pressed Zuckerberg on Facebook censoring conservatives, with at least three specifically referencing Diamond and Silk.
Mark Zuckerberg addresses the censorship of Facebook duo Diamond and Silk that has conservatives up in arms. pic.twitter.com/nO1Zy3BbIw
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) April 11, 2018
“I’m going to read you a question that I was asked, I got this through Facebook and I got dozens like this: ‘Please ask Mr. Zuckerberg, why is Facebook censoring conservative bloggers such as Diamond and Silk? Facebook called them unsafe to the community. That is ludicrous. They hold conservative views. That isn’t unsafe.’
“What’s your response?” Rep. Joe Barton of Texas questioned.
“Congressman, in that specific case, our team made an enforcement error, and we’ve already got in touch with them to reverse it,” Zuckerberg said.
Billy Long: “Do you recognize these folks?”
Mark Zuckerberg: “I do.”
Long: “Who are they?”
Zuckerberg: “I believe — is that Diamond & Silk?” pic.twitter.com/TVxALG4Rgd
— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) April 11, 2018
Louisiana Rep. Billy Long brought along a large poster of the North Carolina sisters to Wednesday’s hearing, where he also mockingly lectured Zuckerberg about Facebook censorship.
“Do you recognize these folks?” Long questioned.
“I do,” Zuckerberg said.
“Who are they?” Long asked.
“I believe … is that Diamond and Silk?” Zuckerberg asked with a smirk.
“That is Diamond and Silk, two biological sisters from North Carolina. I might point out they’re African American,” Long said. “And their content was deemed by your folks to be unsafe.
“So, I don’t know what type of a picture this is, whether it was taken in a police station or what – in a lineup – but apparently they have been deemed unsafe,” he continued. “Diamond and Silk have a question for you and that question is: What is unsafe about two black women supporting president Donald J. Trump?”
Zuckerberg said he was not “up to speed” on the situation before Long cut him off to give him a piece of his mind.
“You have 20,000 employees, as you said, to check content and would suggest that as good as you are with analytics those 20,000 people can use some analytical research to see how many conservative websites have been pulled down, and how many liberal websites,” he said.
“If you don’t remember anything else from this hearing here today, remember we do nothing and we overreact, and we’re getting ready to overreact,” Long said of conservatives. “So I would suggest you go home and review all these other things people have accused you of today and get with your good team that here behind you and fix this. We’re not. You need to save your ship.”
Rep. Blackburn: “Do you subjectively manipulate your algorithms to prioritize or censor speech?”#Zuckerberg: “There are types of content like terrorism that I think we all agree we don’t want to have on our service.”
Blackburn: “Diamond and Silk is not terrorism.” pic.twitter.com/2wRL3K3JHH
— Ryan Saavedra 🇺🇸 (@RealSaavedra) April 11, 2018
The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra summarized another exchange between Zuckerberg and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee.
“Rep. Blackburn: ‘Do you subjectively manipulate your algorithms to prioritize or censor speech?’” Saavedra posted to Twitter. “#Zuckerberg: ‘There are types of content like terrorism that I think we all agree we don’t want to have on our service.
“Blackburn: ‘Diamond and Silk is not terrorism.’”
Diamond and Silk told “Mornings on the Mall” radio show on Wednesday that despite Zuckerberg’s claims before Congress, Facebook has not reached out to rectify their situation, Fox News reports.