Popular pro-Trump spitfires Diamond and Silk (Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson) testified before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday at a hearing looking into “Filtering Practices of Social Media Platforms.”
Google, Facebook, and Twitter were invited to attend the hearing but no representatives from those media platforms showed up. A few media policy experts were also on the panel.
The hearing was contentious from the start with liberals like Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) ridiculing the idea of bias against conservatives on social media platforms like Facebook.
“This is a stupid and ridiculous hearing,” Lieu said. “Whey are we having a hearing about regulating content?” he continued. “It’s unconstitutional to begin with.”
Throughout the hearing, as Diamond and Silk explained how they believe Facebook censored and victimized them, Democrats pointed out what they believed to be inconsistencies in their testimony.
For instance, Democrats thought it was important to point out that Diamond and Silk accepted a whopping $1,200 from the Trump campaign. But the sisters denied being paid by the Trump campaign, calling it “fake news.” When Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries produced the FEC filing, Silk explained that Lara Trump, President Trump’s daughter-in-law, reimbursed them when they traveled for a Trump campaign tour.
“It was for a reimbursement,” she said. “Not field consulting.”
The sisters also insisted throughout the hearing that Facebook had not directly contacted them in response to their censorship claims until their April 12th tweet. Facebook claims it tried contacting them a day or two sooner.
After the hearing, Bradley Crate, treasurer for Mr. Trump’s campaign, released a statement saying the issue is “merely one of semantics.”
“The issue regarding Diamond and Silk is merely one of semantics, resulting from a reasonable misunderstanding of the campaign’s reporting obligations,” Crate said. “The campaign’s payment to Diamond and Silk for field consulting was based on an invoice they submitted reflecting their costs for air travel to a campaign event. The invoice was not supported by accompanying receipts, so as a technical matter, could not be reported as a reimbursement even though its purpose was to make them whole for their out-of-pocket costs.”
The sisters’ nerves were probably already on edge by the time Rep. Hank (Guam) Johnson (D-GA) got to them with his stupid and impertinent questions about how much money they were making off of Facebook.
“You ladies are very impressive to me,” Rep. Johnson said. “You have taken something and you have moved forward with it, exercising your First Amendment rights, and you’ve made a ton of money off Facebook, isn’t that correct?
“Absolutely not,” Hardaway replied angrily. “Facebook censored us for six months!”
“The point I’m trying to make is you all have been bashing Facebook and you’ve been making a ton of money, isn’t that correct?” Johnson pressed.
“We didn’t bash Facebook,” Hardaway said. “We brought it to the light on how Facebook has been censoring conservative voices like ourselves…. They won’t let us monetize on Facebook. They stopped it for six months, 29 days. They limited our page.”
“And YouTube did also by demonetizing 95 percent of our videos for no reason at all,” Richardson added, “deeming it as hate speech.”
Johnson seemed intent on characterizing the sisters as greedy money-grubbers: “You’re still selling merchandise,” he said.
“Even if we sell merchandise, that don’t have anything to do with Facebook!” Hardaway, now fuming, replied. “Facebook censored our free speech, and shame on the ones that don’t even see that we have been censored!”
She claimed there was a double standard in the way Facebook treats conservatives.
“When the Black Lives Matter people complain about it, oh everyone is up in arms!” she exclaimed. “Let me just say this here, if the shoe was on the other foot and Mark Zuckerberg was a conservative, and we were liberals, oh all fences and all chains would have broke loose! You know it and I know it. But what I find appalling is that these Democrats — they don’t want to take up for our voice because we support the president!”
“Democrats would be in the streets,” Richardson agreed. “Democrats would be in the streets right now marching and calling him all types of racist.”
Johnson told the sisters that the committee was giving them “a tremendous platform with this hearing to make a ton of money when it’s over.”
“That’s right, and I hope everybody on Facebook can follow us,” Hardaway replied. “Because that’s what it’s supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about obtaining the American dream. We are African-American women. If illegal aliens can come over here and build businesses, why can’t we? We were born on this soil. You don’t have a right to silence my voice.”
Johnson decided to mock Hardaway’s nickname, saying he’s “always heard … diamonds are a girl’s best friend….”
“They are!” Hardaway shot back. “And they’re hard too! And if I’ve got to be hard and firm with you, I will! You not going to brush us off and dismiss us like we don’t have merit here. These people censored us for no reason. They put limitations on our page for no reason and that was wrong!”
“But rather than diamonds, you’re seeking money with Facebook,” Johnson continued, unable to stray for one second away from his stupid, anti-capitalist narrative.
But Hardaway was having none of it.
“If Facebook is a platform for you to make money, then so be it — everybody else do it,” she told Johnson heatedly. ” Don’t make us feel guilty because we and other people that’s built their brand page want to make money. We’ve spent plenty of money.”
Johnson said feebly that he was with them, but was “astounded that this committee would stoop to this level to be — positioning you all to make more money.”
A spokesman for Facebook explained to PJ Media a couple of weeks ago that Facebook had made changes to its News Feed recently that affected the reach of public pages like Diamond and Silk’s. Unfortunately, he said, Facebook “did not properly communicate the changes” to them.
As News Feed shifts to prioritize posts from friends, public Pages of all types are more likely to experience declines.
Further, we have had a policy in place since 2016 to reduce stories from sources that consistently post clickbait headlines. We’ve posted publishing best practices to which Page owners can refer to avoid issues like this.
“Facebook is a platform for political voices from across the spectrum and we have vibrant and growing conservative communities and many conservative political leaders and commentators thrive on Facebook,” the spokesman said.