Conservative social media personalities Diamond & Silk testified under oath before Congress on Thursday and made several false statements to the House Judiciary Committee regarding Facebook “censorship” and a payment they received from the Trump campaign shortly after the 2016 election.
“Facebook censored us for 6 months,” said Lynnette Hardaway (“Diamond”), one member of the pro-Trump sister-duo, when asked whether the two had been “blocked” by the platform. “…Facebook censored our free speech.”
Earlier in their testimony, the two women claimed that “subtle and slowly, Facebook used one mechanism at a time to diminish reach by restricting our page so that our 1.2 million followers would not see our content, thus silencing our conservative voices.”
“When we reached out to Facebook for an explanation, they gave us the run around,” they said.
As ThinkProgress previously reported, the claim that Diamond and Silk were “censored” or “blocked” on Facebook is false.
The two also claimed, in angry exchanges with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), that they had never received money from the Trump campaign, despite an FEC filing explicitly showing that they had.
Diamond and Silk repeatedly tell congressional committee that “we have never been paid by the Trump campaign." FEC records show Diamond and Silk were paid $1,274.94 for field consulting work. https://t.co/80ORQiNShQ pic.twitter.com/fUl8VasiVA
— ABC News (@ABC) April 26, 2018
“We have never been paid by the Trump campaign,” Hardaway stated, repeating the claim at least four times while responding to a question from Jackson Lee about the duo’s association with the president’s 2016 election bid.
Later in the hearing, Jeffries questioned Hardaway and sister Richardson on the same subject, producing an official campaign filing issued by the Trump campaign on May 12, 2017 that listed, among other things, a number of itemized disbursements made during or shortly after the 2016 election. One of those items was a $1,274.94 expenditure on November 22, 2016 for “field consulting.” The recipients of that payment: “Diamond and Silk” in Raeford, North Carolina.
In contentious exchange with Rep. Jeffries, Diamond and Silk say FEC filing showing Diamond and Silk were paid $1,274.94 represents reimbursement for plane tickets, not field consulting work: "We're familiar with that particular lie. We see that you do look at fake news." pic.twitter.com/CzguBDLi7F
— ABC News (@ABC) April 26, 2018
“We’re familiar with that particular lie. We see that you do look at fake news,” Rochelle Richardson (“Silk”), the other half of the sister-duo, responded. “What should’ve happened is you should’ve come to our mouths to see what exactly happened, before a false narrative was put out there.”
Pressed for an explanation, Richardson added, “Nobody is lying. However, there may have been a mistake from the Trump campaign whenever they wrote what the $1,274.94 was for. …We were asked to join the Women for Trump tour back in 2016. And Ms. Laura Trump, [the president’s daughter-in-law who is married to his son, Eric Trump], asked that our airline tickets be refunded back to us, because we paid for those tickets when we went from New York to Ohio.”
Hardaway then chimed in, claiming once more that the two had “never been paid by the Trump campaign.”
Jeffries then asked the duo whether Trump had asked them to “monetize” their official Diamond & Silk Facebook platform, to which Hardaway responded in the affirmative.
“You, as an African American, are not going to make us feel guilty because we’re going to get out here and take advantage of these platforms and monetize,” she added angrily. “I don’t see you walking up to a white person and saying ‘Oh you shouldn’t be monetizing that,’ so why are you, as an African American, making it seem like we’re doing something wrong […]?”
Jeffries replied simply that he “respect[ed] their game.”
Rochelle Richardson of Diamond & Silk answers "yes" when asked if they were "blocked" on Facebook. (They weren't.)
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) April 26, 2018
Diamond and Silk have long claimed that they are being censored on Facebook for their conservative views, insisting that they have proof to back themselves up. However, as ThinkProgress reported previously, much of their anger appears to stem from an email Facebook sent earlier in the month that claimed their videos were “unsafe.” A spokesperson for the platform later stated that the message had been sent in error and was not “reflective of the way we communicate with our community.”
In reality, the duo’s page views and total interactions have largely remained steady in recent months; as ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum showed, the pair’s total interactions in March 2018 were actually higher than the same time last year. Analysis of Diamond & Silk’s Crowdtangle metrics supports that theory.
Additionally, the pair have claimed that their followers’ ability to select a “see first” option for their content — meaning that followers would see their videos or posts first on their newsfeed upon logging into their personal account — has been blocked, posting a video sent by a fan that appeared to support their claim. However, it’s much more likely that the error in the video stemmed from a bug in the mobile Facebook app or a limit on the newsfeed option, which typically restricts users to 30 “SeeFirst” entities.