Two sisters who have attracted a widespread audience for their commentary in support of President Donald Trump appeared on Capitol Hill this week to testify about Facebook’s alleged censorship of their social media posts.
Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson — known by their fans as Diamond and Silk — became animated at points during the hearing, according to CBS News.
“Facebook censored our free speech!” Hardaway asserted during the proceedings.
Several Republican lawmakers have expressed outrage over the nature of their complaints, which included claims that Facebook not only throttled the reach of their content but at one point labeled their page unsafe to the community and thus blocked it for a period of time.
While the company has apologized for what it called a mistake, the issue of partisan bias at Facebook was a focus of Thursday’s hearing, as well as congressional testimony earlier this month from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, used his time with Hardaway and Richardson to bring attention to a group he believes has been subjected to “more vile reproach and bigotry” than any other segment of the population.
He listed several black conservatives, including Hardaway and Richardson, who he claimed were treated unfairly on the basis of their political views by Facebook or other unspecified individuals or groups.
“I just wanted you to see evidence of improper censorship,” Gohmert said. “They are walking evidence of Facebook censorship.”
The congressman chided Facebook officials for saying that “there’s not any evidence” to support his claim, suggesting this week’s hearing included all of the proof they need.
“It’s been given here today,” he said. “It will continue to surface in the future.”
Gohmert alleged the treatment of Hardaway and Richardson was the latest in a series of discriminatory acts against minority Republicans.
“I would like to also point out that this is an observation I’ve had,” he said. “(Former diplomat) Alan Keyes, (U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Clarence Thomas, they’re heroes of mine. And they can let you know that nobody — (Diamond) and Silk can substantiate — I don’t think there’s anybody in America that suffers more vile reproach and bigotry than black conservatives.”
Earlier in his remarks, Gohmert similarly claimed Christians were being discriminated against on Facebook and elsewhere.
He went on to suggest that “if you throw Christianity on top of black and conservative, you’re just at the bottom of the pile.”
Of course, Democrats participating in the hearing were notably less moved by the grievances being expressed.
As The Hill reported, some lawmakers pressed Hardaway and Richardson over perceived inconsistencies in their story, including a claim that the Trump campaign never paid them despite a Federal Elections Commission statement indicating otherwise.
Other Democrats expressed a belief that their testimony was a waste of time and that Congress should have been focused on more important issues.
Rep. Ted Lieu of California called the hearing “stupid and ridiculous” on the grounds that the First Amendment only offers protection from government censorship, not that of a business in the private sector.
“Why are we having a hearing about regulating content?” he asked. “It’s unconstitutional to begin with.”
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