Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday during a congressional hearing that his team has been in contact with two popular President Donald Trump-supporting women who were banned from the platform — something the duo said earlier was not true.
“Why is Facebook censoring conservative bloggers such as Diamond and Silk? Facebook called them unsafe to the community,” said Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton, who is also the chair of the presiding Committee on Energy and Commerce. “They hold conservative views. That isn’t unsafe. What’s your response to [that]?”
Zuckerberg, echoing comments made the day prior, tried to assure the congressman, and presumably his fellow party members, that it wants the “fullest free expression possible.”
“In that specific case, our team made an enforcement error,” Zuckerberg responded. “And we have already gotten in touch with them to reverse it.”
A Facebook spokeswoman made the same claim to The Daily Caller News Foundation a day earlier.
“We have communicated directly with Diamond And Silk about this issue,” the company representative said. “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, however, contend the opposite.
“We have not heard from Facebook. They have not communicated with us. We haven’t talked to them by phone. We haven’t heard anything by Facebook,” one of the two told Vince Coglianese, host of WMAL’s Mornings on the Mall and editorial director for The Daily Caller, on Wednesday morning. (RELATED: Ted Cruz Grills Zuckerberg Over FB’s Censorship Of Conservatives)
When asked if a statement given to TheDCNF and The Washington Post that they have been corresponding is true, Diamond and Silk unequivocally said no.
Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee also protested Facebook’s actions against Diamond and Silk — just as Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and others did Tuesday — saying that although Facebook tries to nab terrorists through its content moderation algorithms, the aforementioned personalities “are not terrorists.”
Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana asked Zuckerberg if the people responsible for taking down Diamond and Silk’s social media capabilities — assuming it wasn’t due to the algorithm — were punished in any way.
Zuckerberg said he wasn’t sure since the developments have been happening so recently and has been too busy preparing for the testimonies to receive updates.
Not to be outdone, Republican Rep. Billy Long later had an aide hold up a large poster depicting Diamond Silk in order to highlight points similar to the ones his congressional colleagues made.
Zuckerberg was pressed on both cracking down on “bad actors” like ones who share, spread, or conduct hate speech, fake news, and most importantly, terrorist propaganda and communications.
Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who also chairs one of the two presiding committees, asked Zuckerberg on Tuesday if he will limit the infringements on free expression in his efforts to ward off “bad actors.”
Zuckerberg also expressed his interest in fostering a community with the “widest possible expression.”
“I don’t want anyone at our company to make any decisions based on the political ideology of the content,” he told Thune.
How Zuckerberg will balance concerns over manipulation of the platform, and maintaining, or recreating, a platform with a free expression ethos remains to be seen.
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