The conservative Trump-supporting duo Diamond and Silk are heading to Washington, D.C. this week to testify before the House Judiciary Committee about the political censorship they experienced on Facebook.
Unfortunately, representatives from the world’s largest social media company decided to ditch the hearing, according to an announcement Wednesday.
“We look forward to a continuing dialogue with members of the Committee about Facebook’s strong commitment to being a platform for all voices and ideas,” a company spokesperson told Axios.
The news site reports:
The company would have been exposing itself to some tough exchanges if it had appeared at the hearing, which will likely focus on how web platforms treat conservative views — though Facebook has denied charges of a company-wide bias against conservatives. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the issue multiple times during his more than 10 hours of congressional testimony earlier this month.
The House committee invited representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter to participate, and it remains unclear whether the other two tech giants will attend.
The hearing will feature Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, conservative and outspoken black sisters who say they were censored by Facebook in early April for expressing support for President Trump.
They contend Facebook sent them a message April 5 informing them that “your content and your brand has been determined unsafe to the community.” The message claimed the move to censor the sisters is “final and is not appeal-able in any way.”
Diamond and Silk, and their 1.2 million Facebook followers, spoke out about the situation, prompting lawmakers to grill Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the ordeal, and numerous other allegations of bias against conservatives, during a series of congressional hearings earlier this month, The American Mirror previously reported.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was among the first to press Zuckerberg about the Diamond and Silk issue and other similar stunts.
“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 examples of reported censorship, including coverage of CPAC, Mitt Romney, IRS scandals, and Glenn Beck.
“To a great many Americans, that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias,” he told Zuckerberg. “Do you agree with that assessment?”
The 33-year-old Facebook founder dodged the direct question and instead stuck to his talking points.
Zuckerberg said the political bias “is actually a concerns that I have and that I try to root out in the company…”
He faced similar questions in the House, where several lawmakers also referenced the Diamond and Silk debacle.
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
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee, also asked Zuckerberg directly whether “you subjectively manipulate your algorithms to prioritize or censor speech?”
When Zuckerberg alleged Facebook worked to root out “content like terrorism that I think we all agree we don’t want to have on our service,” Blackburn’s response was swift: “Diamond and Silk is not terrorism.”