A Facebook representative apologized to popular pro-Trump vloggers Diamond and Silk on Tuesday for calling their Page “dangerous” while speaking at a Congressional hearing on content moderation and censorship on social media.
“We understand their frustrations over some past communications with our team, and we recognize that we badly mishandled their concerns,” said Monika Bickert, vice president of global policy management at Facebook. “We apologized to them at the time, and I’d like to extend my own personal apology to them again today.”
Bickert added: “While they were never banned from the platform, the message they received on April 5, 2018 that characterized their Page as ‘dangerous’ was incorrect and is not reflective of the way we seek to communicate with our community and the people who run Pages on our platform.”
Bickert’s apology in front of the House Judiciary Committee was the latest turn in the saga featuring the commentators — whose real names are Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson — and the social network. Diamond and Silk have complained Facebook has curtailed the reach of their videos since last September. The duo have racked up more than 1.6 million followers on Facebook with their videos, which often champion President Trump. They said Facebook blocked their followers from easily spotting new videos once they’ve been uploaded.
Diamond and Silk said they received an email from Facebook’s policy team in April deeming their Page “unsafe to the community.” Facebook pushed back on Diamond and Silk’s framing of the email, telling The Washington Post it was “inaccurate and not reflective of the way we communicate with our community.”
The issue soon came up again at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s at Washington testimony on the Cambridge Analytica data leak in April. Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) pressed Zuckerberg on what he and many Republicans view as a coordinated blackballing of conservatives by the social network. Long revealed a picture of “Diamond and Silk,” asking “what is unsafe about two black women supporting President Donald J. Trump?”
“Well congressman, nothing is unsafe about that,” replied Zuckerberg. “The specifics of this situation, I’m not up to speed.”
Facebook was joined by reps for Twitter and YouTube on Tuesday in Washington. Bickert said Facebook has made errors in enforcing its policies when it comes to both right and left-leaning users.
“We recognize that we’ve incorrectly removed content on the other end of the political spectrum as well, and we know these incidents often garner significant public attention,” said Bickert. “We have learned from these experiences, and although we will never reduce the number of errors to zero, we are committed to improving further in this area.”