Vocal Trump supporters and social media figures and sisters Diamond and Silk – whose real names are Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson – testified oath in oath before House Judiciary Committee legislators Thursday, at a hearing on alleged filtering practices by social media Platforms quickly turned into passionate and contradictory statements.
"Facebook censored our free speech!" Diamond once said aloud.
During most of the hearing, Republicans urged Diamond and Silk to explain how they believed Facebook censored and harassed them, while Democrats dismissed inconsistencies in their statement and wondered why they had ever held the hearing at all.
"This is a stupid and ridiculous hearing," said MEP Ted Lieu, who pointed out that the First Amendment was about protecting freedom of expression against government interference and not ensuring the free expression of business.
"Whey, are we hearing about content regulation?" Said Lieu. "It's initially unconstitutional."
The focus of the hearing should be which metrics social media platforms use to filter content, while social media stars accuse Facebook and others of censoring their content and reducing their reach. The duo previously demanded unfair censorship after Facebook classified the content as "unsafe for the community" and blocked its page.
But the duo gave an inaccurate testimony under oath on Thursday, something that was widely mentioned on Twitter. In their testimony, Diamond claimed that they had "never been paid by the Trump campaign."
Federal Election Commission records, however, say otherwise. A November 201
When Democrat Hakeem Jeffries made the FEC filing, the duo cited the reports that they had been paid "false news". Silk suggested the Trump campaign may have made a mistake while recording the payment, saying that Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, had reimbursed them when they were on tour for a Trump campaign.
After the hearing, Bradley Crate, treasurer of Mr. Trump's campaign, issued a statement saying that the topic was "just a semantics".
"The problem with Diamond and Silk is just one of the semantics that results from a reasonable misunderstanding of the reporting obligations of the campaign," Crate said. "The payment of the campaign to Diamond and Silk for on-site consultation was based on a bill that included their costs of air travel to a campaign event." The bill was not supported by accompanying evidence so a technical matter could not be reported the purpose was to make them complete for their expenses. "
The self-styled "most outspoken and loyal" Trump supporters have an online episode for their debates on politics, the Trump administration, and the news of the day on their Youtube channel and on Facebook and Twitter. Mr. Trump invited the Internet stars to attend some of his rallies during the 2016 campaign and was photographed in the Oval Office next to the President.
"Subtly and slowly, Facebook used a mechanism to reduce its reach by limiting our site so that our 1.2 million followers would not see our content, thereby silencing our conservative voices" said Diamond and Silk in their statement. "When we inquired on Facebook, they gave us the overview."
But Ari Waldman, director of the Innovation and Technology Innovation Center at New York Law School, said Facebook's decision to change its algorithm way more articles from family and friends than news and other organizations affected far more than just Diamond and Silk, and gave examples of left-handed groups and individuals who have censored their posts.
"The result is that a lot of content is being filtered out, but not more from the right than from the left," Waldman said.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top democrat of the House Judiciary Committee, called the hearing with the two social media stars a "spectacle" that should not happen if the committee were to explore more important issues.
Nadler, later at the hearing, "no pattern was found" that conservatives are unfairly biased.
Diamond and silk were a focus for some Republicans when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified earlier this month before Congress.
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, read a message from one of his constituents in one of these hearings: "Why does Facebook censor conservative bloggers like Diamond and Silk? Facebook called them" insecure "for the community, which is ridiculous is not insecure. "