Nation & World

Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook made 'enforcement error' with Trump fans Diamond and Silk

Popular social media personalities Diamond and Silk say that Facebook has deemed their content “unsafe to the community” and is limiting access to their million-plus followers.
Popular social media personalities Diamond and Silk say that Facebook has deemed their content “unsafe to the community” and is limiting access to their million-plus followers. Instagram/Diamond and Silk

Diehard President Donald Trump fans Diamond and Silk came up in the discussion during the second day of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Congressional testimony on Wednesday.

The North Carolina sisters — Lynnette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson — had been complaining publicly that Facebook told them their content was “unsafe to the community” and was limiting access to their million-plus followers.

Their supporters, including Roseanne Barr, have been equally angry about it, and apparently members of Congress have been hearing about it as well.

“Why is Facebook censoring conservative bloggers such as Diamond and Silk? Facebook called them ‘unsafe’ to the community. That is ludicrous. They hold conservative views. That isn’t unsafe," Republican Joe Barton asked Zuckerberg, reading from a message from one of his constituents, according to Time.

The women said they have been corresponding with Facebook since September about “bias censorship and discrimination,” alleging that Facebook was not sending notifications of new content to people who like or follow their page.

According to an April 6 post, the women wrote that after months of back and forth communication, Facebook’s policy team told them in a message it had determined their content was “unsafe to the community.”

“Congressman,” Zuckerberg told Barton, “in that specific case, our team made an enforcement error and we have already gotten in touch with them to reverse it.”

Questioned by Republican senator Ted Cruz about Facebook's "perceived pattern of bias and political censorship," Zuckerberg said he, too, was concerned about Facebook's political leanings.

"Senator, let me say a few things about this. First, I understand where that concern is coming from because Facebook and the tech industry are located in the Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place," Zuckerberg told Cruz, according to CBS News.

"And this is actually a concern that I have and that I try to rout out in the company — is making sure that we don't have any bias in the work that we do."

In the Diamond and Silk situation, Facebook wrangled with quite possibly the president's most ardent, and feistiest, fans.

The YouTube vloggers became social media stars during Trump's presidential campaign. More than 1.3 million people follow their Diamond and Silk Facebook page.

More people know them now after their names and photo came up on Capitol Hill and became a trending topic on Twitter.

The sisters were lifelong Democrats until Trump declared his candidacy. Then they registered as Republicans and went around telling other Democrats how to "ditch and switch."

They stood out among Trump supporters because polls showed Trump had miniscule support from the black community. These women liked his message.

That wall between the United States and Mexico?

“He is trying to keep people from comin' into our country wantin' to chop off our heads,” Hardaway told the BBC.

“My President never says anything that is stupid. See, that what’s wrong with you left people, you always want to be so politically correct. Well he's not politically correct, he is earnest and we love him for his honesty.

“There is nothing my President can do that makes me feel sore. He makes us happy, we love him.”

So who are these women who attended the inauguration, the wedding of former White House political aide Omarosa Manigault, who keep popping up on Fox News, and are about to make Mark Zuckerberg's life even more of a living nightmare?

Here are 9 things to know.

The Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a hearing on April 10. Zuckerberg testified about Facebook’s handling of user data and privacy.

1. Who are they? Who knows? They have revealed little about their private lives. Are they married? Do they have kids? Pets? Jobs? They call themselves “entrepreneurs."

During a 2016 interview with Newsweek, they were “reluctant” to give their ages but coyly said they were “old enough to vote.”

When Nightline correspondent Byron Pitts interviewed them during the campaign, he noted that, like politicians, they are adept at dodging questions, answering many of his questions with “that’s none of your business.”

When he asked what Trump said to them the first time they met, Hardaway told him, “that’s none of yo business.”

“I’ve never done an interview where I’ve been told none of your business as many times,” Pitts said with some frustration.

“Well, what do you want me to say? I’m sorry, what being political correct,” Hardaway said. “How else could I have said that, Byron, to make you comfortable?”

Pitts chuckled.

Watching them tape one of their YouTube videos — in which they worried that Ted Cruz would spend money on hookers if he became president — Pitts said he had decided the women were “ghetto fabulous, in your face, over the top, reality TV, generation performers.”

2. They come from a TV-savvy family. Pitts reported the women’s parents were Christian televangelists in Raeford, N.C., outside Fayetteville, who sold herbal pills on TV. They were reportedly affiliated with the Jericho Deliverance Temple, which has sold everything from “Super Fat Binder” pills to their mom’s book, “Faith Can and Will Move Mountains, Including Mountains of Fat.”

3. Which is which? “Diamond is loud and chatty, while Silk emphasizes everything her sister says by repeating the end of her sentence or adding ‘That’s right’ and ‘Yeah,’ wrote one British publication.

Hardaway, Rolling Stone has noted, “possesses the timbre and timing of a revivalist minister.”

Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in a ceremony on Capitol Hill on January 20.

4. They were first known as the "Stump for Trump Girls." They appeared at campaign rallies down South, in North Carolina and Mississippi. At an event in Iowa, Trump introduced them to the crowd by saying, “they’ve become very famous and very rich.”

When a reporter asked Hardaway what the president meant by “rich,” she said, “Ask Donald.”

Last August, Gizmodo noticed a photo of the two women on the U.S. Commerce Department’s Twitter account, a picture that disappeared hours later.

The tweet said the two women had met with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to “discuss how to grow their business and build their brand.”

A Commerce spokesperson told Gizmodo the tweet was deleted “out of an abundance of caution” because the department didn’t know whether it had permission to use the picture.

“Diamond and Silk were here to talk about minority business development,” the spokesperson said. “They reached out to the Acting National Director of MBDA, [whom] they had met previously, to discuss how best to help the minority business community.”

“The meeting would seem perfectly innocent, were it not for the fact that Diamond and Silk were paid Trump campaign consultants,” Gizmodo noted.

“The Trump campaign denied paying Diamond and Silk for their regular on-stage appearances at political rallies. But an amendment to the campaign’s 2016 FEC report, released in May 2017, reveals the YouTube stars were in fact cut a check shortly after the election: a meager $1,274.94 for their ‘field consulting’ work.”

5. They don’t need Democrats telling them what to think. At a small event during the Republican National Convention in 2016, the women, speaking to a crowd of mostly middle-aged white women, declared unrestrained love for Trump.

“First of all, if y'all haven't noticed: We black .... And just because we black, we found out, that doesn't mean we have to vote Democrat,” Hardaway said, as described by Rolling Stone. “We can come off the Democratic plantation, and we can vote for whoever we want to vote for.”

The crowd erupted into applause.

“We don't need the media spoon-feeding us a narrative,” Hardaway continued. “We can think for ourselves, and we started thinking for ourselves. And in Donald J. Trump, we see a man that never wavers, nor does he back down, and that's what we love.

“I love ev-er-y-thing about Donald J. Trump. He can do no wrong in my eyes."

6. They appear to have few fans in the black community. They’ve hinted that they knew they would get backlash by passionately embracing a candidate so unpopular in the black community. They were right.

They’ve been scorned and mocked on social media and in black publications, one in which a reader wrote “they are making a fool out (of) themselves. So sad, you can’t take everyone off the plantation.”

Michael Harriot for The Root, writing about why Facebook declared “Donald Trump’s favorite black women” unsafe, knocked “Q. Bic Zirconia and Polly Ester" for going on “Fox News to whine about the unfair bias by throwing shade at Black Lives Matter, dope boys and everything black.”

Harriot gave his opinion of why the women got on Facebook’s bad side.

They spread fake news, he wrote, “they repeatedly push conspiracy theories like Uranium One, pizza-gate and the unbelievable theory that Donald Trump has a brain.”

They’re funded by the Russians: “Only Vladimir Putin would believe that anyone could find Diamond and Silk interesting. I still find it hard to believe that the duo aren’t a pair of computer-generated Russian bots.”

Their own family members have disagreed with their politics. “The more they hate, the more we educate,” Hardaway has said.

“While some of our supporters may be surprised to see two American (Black) women voicing their opinions about these issues, it’s not a racial or cultural thing,” the sisters wrote on their Facebook page. “It’s about doing the right thing when it comes to ‘We the American People!’”

7. They can give as good as they get. They’ve bashed Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and scores of others, leading The Fayetteville Observer to observe this week that they “dole out vociferous invective against (Trump) critics.”

Diamond and Silk thought Clinton was insincere when she spoke to the black community.

“When she runs around with a bottle of hot sauce, when she walked up in the black church trying to sing the negro spirituals — she knows she don't go to a black church,” Hardaway told Rolling Stone during the campaign.

“When she’s running around here doing the nae nae and doing the black dances. Get out of here. You're not black. You got the Clinton Foundation. What has your foundation done for black people in the hood, like Detroit? Chicago? You were born in Chicago and you ain't never done nothing.”

A video they made bashing then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly’s questions to Trump during one of the Republican primary debates went viral.

Rapper Eminem blasts President Trump in a freestyle rap on topics ranging from the protests in Charlottesville, Va., to the anthem protests in the NFL.

They mocked Eminem for his anti-Trump video with a their own anti-Eminem video.

When you come for the Donald, they warned him, “we will be coming for you.”

Then there was that one time they came for Jay-Z.

They were upset in January, when the rapper did an interview on CNN's “The Van Jones Show” and criticized the president instead of crediting him with lowering the black unemployment rate.

“Somebody can also tell Jay-Z to stop crying like a little baby and a little trick because Trump is your president,” Richardson said on “Fox and Friends.”

Hardaway called the rapper “out of touch.”

8. They supported Sandra Bland. In 2015 Sandra Bland died in a Waller County, Texas, jail three days after a controversial traffic stop near Prairie View A&M University. Her death sparked protests in Houston and beyond, and heated national debate about excessive use of force by cops. The trooper who arrested Bland was ultimately fired and Bland became an icon of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Diamond and Silk posted their own protest of what happened on their Facebook page. They called the officer involved in the traffic stop “such a liar.”

9. They got their own presidential tweet. For Thanksgiving they made a video about “how to reply when someone mentions the president at Thanksgiving.”

They suggested this comeback, one of their favorite sayings: “He’s yo president.”

Trump retweeted their video on Thanksgiving, along with a shout-out to another Trump devotee, Sean Hannity of Fox News.