Diamond and Silk, two conservative bloggers who were identified as “unsafe” by Facebook, have been invited by House Republicans to testify before the House Judiciary Committee regarding allegations of political bias on various social media platforms, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter, and the censoring of conservative voices. The hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.
Diamond and Silk, two sisters from North Carolina who blog under nicknames, rose to prominence online during the 2016 presidential election. They were incredibly outspoken regarding their support of then-candidate Donald Trump, even during a time when many other notable African Americans were supporting the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
The pair, whose legal names are Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, became popular among conservatives. According to the Washington Post, their Facebook page has 1.6 million followers, and their YouTube channel has 146,000 subscribers.
This month, Facebook sent an email accusing the duo of having “unsafe” content. When the determination drew the attention of the media, Facebook attempted to reverse course, but not before some Republican lawmakers began to question the social media platforms motives.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, referred to the incident as “an enforcement error” and claimed he wasn’t sure why Diamond and Silk were called “unsafe.”
The sisters have spoken publicly about the issue. Diamond stated, “We don’t belong to no gang, so how are we unsafe to the community?… It bothers me. It’s offensive. It’s appalling.”
“Why are you censoring two women of color?” she added. “They’re trying to become a dictator.”
Some have questioned whether certain social media sites use political bias, particularly against conservative viewpoints, when determining what content should be displayed.
On Thursday, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte said in a statement: “The advent of social media has made it possible for people to connect across continents, explore vast amounts of information, and share meaningful dialogue with friends and strangers.”
“However,” the statement continued, “this same technology can be used to suppress a particular viewpoint and manipulate public opinion. I look forward to hearing from a wide variety of experts at our hearing to discuss the free speech implications of social media filtering.”
Facebook has admitted to sending Diamond and Silk the message, but asserts it was “inaccurate.”
In a statement issued last week, Facebook said, “We have communicated directly with Diamond and Silk about this issue.”
“The message they received last week was inaccurate and not reflective of the way we communicate with our community and the people who run Pages on our platform,” the statement continued. “We have provided them with more information about our policies and the tools that are applicable to their Page and look forward to the opportunity to speak with them.”