Facebook’s censoring of the popular sisters Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, known as Diamond and Silk, made headlines at this week’s testimony before Congress by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
He claimed his company committed an “enforcement error” when it censored the page of the hilarious Trump-loving duo, calling them “unsafe” for the community.
“In that specific case, our team made an enforcement error and we have already gotten in touch with them to reverse it,” Zuckerberg told lawmakers Wednesday.
But it’s more what Zuckerberg didn’t say that is of concern to those who believe the evidence shows a clear anti-conservative bias in his company’s attitude and actions.
For example, in an exchange with Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Zuckerberg said Facebook is improving algorithms that can prevent hate speech from being posted.
However, he struggled to define hate speech.
“I think this is a really hard question,” he admitted.
And the employees who inappropriately censored Diamond and Silk?
He said he had idea whether or not they were being disciplined.
In a FoxNews.com commentary, Lauren DeBellis Appell wrote: “It’s no secret that conservatives are targets. Hollywood mocks us, the mainstream media thinks we’re enemy No. 1, and former candidates for office insult us because we didn’t vote for them. That’s just become a lot of noise at this point. Same players, same song, different day.
“However, what Facebook is doing is far more dangerous. When you censor speech and silence voices to fit a political narrative, freedoms get stripped away. If Facebook does it and gets away with it, others will follow.”
In his testimony before Congress, Zuckerberg admitted the anti-conservative bias in his community.
“I understand where that concern is coming from, because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place. This is actually a concern that I have and that I try to root out in the company, is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do.”
But an exchange he had with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was revealing.
Appell explained: “Referencing a Gizmodo report from 2016, Cruz ticked off a laundry list of examples in which conservatives have been censored on Facebook, including blocking a Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day page; suppressing posts from Catholic pages; blocking a Fox News reporter; and blocking posts relating to former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, political commentator Glenn Beck, and the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“When asked if he knew of any posts by Planned Parenthood, MoveOn.org or Democrat candidates were removed, Zuckerberg wouldn’t give a straight answer, saying he wasn’t ‘specifically aware.’
“Translation,” wrote Appell, “No.”
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., was interviewed after Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress by Breitbart News Tonight.
She said, in the interview with host Rebecca Mansour: “At one point, [Zuckerberg] made a comment that Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company. So I took that quote from him as meaning that he sees himself as more than a normal company. So let’s start with that premise. I asked him if he was subjectively manipulating his algorithms in order to prioritize content or to censor free speech, and he wanted to push the question off: ‘Well, you know, we have to manipulate our algorithms for things like terrorism,’ and I cut him off, and I said, ‘I got to tell you. Diamond and Silk is not terrorism. That is not terrorism.’”
Blackburn said Zuckerberg “made the point that I was wanting to make — that they are subjective in how they manipulate these algorithms.”
“Then he referenced that they have 15 to 20 thousand content managers who look at content, and he admitted that Silicon Valley is a liberal place and people bring their bias to work with them even though he said he does not want them to exercise that bias in their jobs. We all know that they do.”
Mansour, citing Facebook’s description of Diamond and Silk “unsafe,” noted: “He kept being asked repeatedly about the censorship of conservatives. Specifically, the case that was mentioned over and over again is the wonderful Trump supporters Diamond and Silk, which is just the most outrageous example, that their page was deemed unsafe.”
She continued: “Conservative publishers have been absolutely targeted by the change in algorithm. Mark Zuckerberg likes us to think that his Facebook is a neutral public forum and that his content reviewers are not involved in picking and choosing winners and losers or deciding opinion, and yet the numbers don’t lie.
“Conservative sites have seen a massive decline in their Facebook traffic and reach, yet all of the establishment media have gotten a big boost from Mark Zuckerberg. With the way that Facebook is controlling so much of the traffic and the ad revenue — between Facebook and Google, it’s like 70 percent of online revenue for websites — [Mark Zuckerberg] is basically deciding content. So it seems like he has set himself up as the de facto publisher and editor of the world. Doesn’t this call for regulation?”
Breitbart reported Blackburn said: “I just found it interesting that he tried to always say, ‘We’re just here to connect people.’ Well, they do a lot more than connect people, but he got off into some of the other businesses that they do. The broadband expansion that they’re doing. They’re even trying to do a plane that will be used as a connector, if you will, for people. There are so many other areas they are working in, so it is simplistic to say they are simply a platform for people to connect because they are an enormous advertising company.”
Appell explained: “Zuckerberg’s testimony did nothing to convince conservatives or anyone interested in fairness that he was sincere in his desire to root out anti-conservative bias.”
She went on: “One of two things is going on. Either Zuckerberg is not really in charge and just acting as the ‘face’ of Facebook, or he thinks we’re all just really dumb. Who’s to say conservative views won’t end up being targeted – and removed – as hate speech on Facebook? Zuckerberg certainly didn’t.”