Who Are Diamond And Silk, And Why Are They The Subject Of Congressional Hearings?

who are diamond and silk
The White House

On April 11th and 12th, while Mark Zuckerberg was being grilled by Congress, he kept being asked about Diamond and Silk. Why were they declared “unsafe” by Facebook? Ted Cruz, Joe Barton, and Marsha Blackburn all inquired about the right-wing vloggers, who are currently in front of the House Judiciary Committee arguing Facebook is deliberately censoring them. So who are they, and what’s their grudge against Facebook?

Diamond and Silk are the professional names of sisters Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, and they’re probably the most visible Black supporters of Donald Trump. Mostly, their social media videos consist of Hardaway discussing a news item and Richardson agreeing with her, and they usually post on Facebook. They were a few of many internet pundits out there until the 2016 election, when they were thrust front and center, in part through the efforts of the Trump campaign. After the 2016 election, they’ve largely stuck to social media, although they do appear on Fox News occasionally, most recently publicly criticizing Jay-Z for not liking Trump.

Their problem with Facebook began, the sisters claim, in September, when they received an email from Facebook that they had fallen afoul of the company’s ongoing attempts to limit fake news and hostile content. Specifically, the email, which the sisters have not provided in full, stated that “The Policy team has came to the conclusion that your content and your brand has been determined unsafe to the community.” Among other things, this has supposedly meant their reach on Facebook was limited and that they made less money from the platform, although this has come under dispute. The Washington Post, following up on this in early April, received a more detailed statement from Facebook:

“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. 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.”

It’s not clear whether Hardaway and Richardson have refused to speak with Facebook, or whether they haven’t been able to negotiate any sort of agreement. But they were summoned before Congress to discuss “anti-conservative bias” in tech company moderation policies, something you might remember Facebook has been accused of before.

Unfortunately for all involved, the hearing did not go the way some members of the House Judiciary Committee had been hoping. Most notably, the sisters denied receiving any money from the Trump campaign under oath, something contradicted in FEC documents and which they were almost immediately confronted with, and even more bizarrely, appear to have received payment from Paul Nehlen, who is so notorious for his anti-Semitic and racist views the GOP would prefer a Democrat take Paul Ryan’s seat over Nehlen. They also publicly stated that Facebook is a “public utility” due to their stock offering, and, well, this moment sticks out, reportedly from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA):

One can argue that what matters, both to the Republicans on the committee and the duo, is that they got their perspective out there. The hearing ended with a promise of more hearings to come. But the fallout for Diamond and Silk may just be beginning.