Under the Dome

These black Trump-supporting sisters say Facebook considers them ‘unsafe’

Diamond and Silk stir up the crowd prior to presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, N.C. Tuesday, July 5, 2016.
Diamond and Silk stir up the crowd prior to presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, N.C. Tuesday, July 5, 2016. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Popular social media personalities Diamond and Silk — black sisters from North Carolina who proudly support President Donald Trump — say that Facebook has deemed their content “unsafe to the community” and is limiting access to their million-plus followers.

More than 1.3 million Facebook users like the Diamond and Silk page, which features commentary from Fayetteville-area sisters Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson. The page was created in December 2014.

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

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

“How are we and our content and our brand unsafe for the community? We don’t sell drugs. We not laying out in the streets. We not no thugs. We don’t belong to no gang, so how are we unsafe to the community?” said Hardaway during an appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”

“It bothers me. It’s offensive. It’s appalling. It taints our brand. It taints us as women.”

Conservatives have long accused Facebook of liberal bias. Liberals have complained about the company’s spreading of fake news stories during the 2016 elections. Both sides have concerns about how the social media giant protects user data and how it allowed foreign entities to purchase ads and produce content during the 2016 elections.

During congressional testimony by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, cited Diamond and Silk as an example of the platform’s “bias and political censorship.”

Cruz said Facebook had shown a “pervasive pattern of political bias.”

Zuckerberg said he was committed to “making sure Facebook is a platform for all ideas. I’m proud of the discourse and different ideas that people can share on the service.”

Zuckerberg was called to testify before congressional committees after the company admitted that more than 87 million users’ data was accessed by a third-party vendor and used by data firm Cambridge Analytica, which was employed by numerous Republican candidates, PACs and committees in 2014 and 2016.

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and the North Carolina Republican Party hired Cambridge in 2014. Trump used the company in 2016.

Fox News reported Monday night that Facebook is reconsidering its designation. In a statement to Fox, a Facebook spokesperson said: “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.”

Diamond and Silk posted Tuesday morning that no one from Facebook has communicated directly with them and they have not spoken to Zuckerberg or anyone from Facebook.

Diamond and Silk gained prominence during the 2016 election as staunch Trump supporters. Their page is filled with content bashing Democrats like Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. It includes video of their appearances on Fox News and promotions for their “Chit Chat Tour.”

They shared a post and a chart from Sarah Palin, alleging that Facebook is showing her content to fewer and fewer fans of the former Republican vice presidential nominee. Palin opens her post with “What the Zuck, Facebook?”

“Why are you censoring two women of color, two black women? Why are you not allowing our viewers or our followers and likes to view our content because you deem it unsafe and you can’t even give us an explanation as to why?” Hardaway said on “Fox & Friends.”

The sisters said it is because of their conservative views.

“When we signed up with Facebook, they didn’t say that this platform was only for liberal views,” Richardson said.

Brian Murphy: 202-383-6089, @MurphinDC