Diamond and Silk decry internet censorship in fiery congressional testimony
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- The conservative video blogging duo Diamond and Silk took Facebook to task for allegedly “silencing” them during impassioned testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday.
The South Carolina sisters, whose real names are Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, were invited to participate in a House Judiciary Committee hearing on “Filtering Practices of Social Media Platforms.” They have accused Facebook of dramatically suppressing their traffic since November on the grounds that their videos were “unsafe to the community.”
During his own recent congressional testimony, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claimed the judgment was erroneous and that their traffic issues would be resolved, but Diamond and Silk report that their fans are still having some trouble receiving their content.
In their prepared testimony, the two provide a screenshot showing that Facebook labeled their page “Very Liberal,” resulting in the site’s algorithms de-prioritizing their content for the vast majority of their followers, who are recognized as conservative. Despite the mismatch between their page’s classification and their fans’ views, they say they have no ability to change the label.
The testimony also provides graphics showing that their content reached dramatically fewer users in 2018 compared to 2016.
“Censorship is not a hoax, it’s real. It is wrong for these social media giants to suppress and disregard people by diminishing and denying them their free speech,” they testified. “If social media is supposed to be a place for all idea or to express idea then Algorithms and tactic should not be in place to suppress some idea.”
“We built this platform one person at a time, all we ask is to be given the same opportunity to build our brand,” they told the committee.
The committee had also invited Facebook to send a representative to the hearing, but it declined -- a decision the duo interpreted as an admission of guilt.
"The mere fact that they can't face us proves that they're guilty,” Hardaway said. Richardson accused Facebook of "run[ning] from the truth because they don't have any answers for their lies."
Some reactions have accused the duo of perjuring themselves during their testimony, because they denied getting paid by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign despite a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) receipt showing the campaign paid them more than $1,200 for "field consulting.” Richardson responded that the sum was merely reimbursement for flying to a campaign event, and after the hearing Trump campaign manager Bradley Crate said the accusation was a “semantic” misunderstanding of campaign finance reporting, and that the invoice was solely to “make them whole for their out-of-pocket costs.”
Notably, it was Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY, who raised the FEC receipt. But during the committee’s 2015 hearings into Planned Parenthood’s sale of organs from aborted babies, Jeffries claimed “no one has presented a shred of evidence...that Planned Parenthood has done anything wrong.” He presumably accepted the abortion giant’s explanation that reimbursement for the organs didn’t constitute “profit,” despite video in which Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Deborah Nucatola expresses a desire to “do a little better than break even” on fetal organ transfers.
Committee Democrats attacked the necessity of the hearing, with Rep. Ted Lieu of California calling it “stupid and ridiculous,” and Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York calling it a “spectacle” when “no pattern has been established” of Facebook discriminating against conservatives.
However, a 50-page report recently released by the conservative Media Research Center notes that several former employees have admitted that Facebook “routinely” manipulated its trending news feature to exclude topics of interest to conservatives, while it relies on left-leaning publications such as Snopes and PolitiFact to “fact-check” content.
LifeSiteNews has covered multiple instances of facebook improperly censoring conservative and Christian content, such as a pro-life documentary on Roe v. Wade and a Holy Week ad by the Franciscan University of Steubenville featuring the San Damiano Cross. In addition, a study by the conservative Western Journal found that left-of-center sites enjoyed a nearly 14% traffic increase following algorithm changes last fall, whereas popular conservative sites saw a 27% decline.