Over the past two days, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been bombarded with pointed questions and statements about the many missteps of the social media platform. But one thing that seems to be top in the minds of congresspeople is the duo Diamond and Silk.
If you had no idea who these two women were before Wednesday’s hearing, you’d be forgiven for being confused as to why they seemed to be a bigger deal than Russia’s use of Facebook during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Diamond and Silk are social media personalities who claim that, last fall, it was getting more difficult to alert fans of new videos. Last week, the pair claimed that Facebook told them their videos were “unsafe” though the company didn’t elaborate. And that’s put the spotlight on them during Zuckerberg’s trip to Capitol Hill.
.@DiamondandSilk have been corresponding since September 7, 2017, with @facebook (owned by Mark Zuckerberg), about their bias censorship and discrimination against D&S brand page. Finally after several emails, chats, phone calls, appeals, beating around the bush, lies, and……
— Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) April 7, 2018
Here’s what you need to know about Diamond and Silk and their 15 seconds in the national limelight.
Who are Diamond and Silk?
In Republican circles, Diamond and Silk are a big deal. The North Carolina-based sisters share their videos across multiple platforms, including YouTube and Facebook, and have been vocal supporters of Trump since the earliest days of his presidential campaign.
They spoke at some of Trump’s campaign rallies and even got presidential shoutouts from Trump’s Twitter account in summer 2016.
They’re so popular, they recently spoke at Liberty University and were treated like rock stars at the 2016 Republican National Convention where they even shared the stage with the notorious Milo Yiannopoulos.
Perhaps their most infamous appearance so far is their rap video they posted in response to Eminem’s much-lauded freestyle slam of Trump that aired at the 2017 BET Hip Hop awards.
That the pair is African-American sets them apart from many of the other Republican talking heads. After all, Trump only garnered 8% of the black vote in 2016. But the sisters insist that it’s not about race.
On their website, they say:
While some of our supporters may be surprised to see two American (black) women voicing their opinions about these issues, it’s not a racial or cultural thing. It’s about doing the right thing when it comes to “We the American People!”
That’s not to say that the pair have shied away from discussions of race.
Whatever you think of Diamond and Silk’s approach — a no-nonsense attitude that eschews political correctness and mixes in humor — they manage to connect with their target audience in a relatable way that’s proven to be big-league successful. They even got the Rolling Stone treatment in 2016.
Their outspoken personalities make sense when you learn that their parents were televangelists. They also have mastered the art of the dodge, being able to bat away personal questions or pointed observations about Trump.
A large following rallies support
The pair are hugely popular with a big, vocal following: over 140,000 YouTube subscribers, 642,000 Twitter followers, 1.4 million Facebook followers, and 179,000 followers on Instagram. Of course some of those may be Russians or bots or Russian bots.
But they’ve become the latest cause célèbre amongst the crowd that believes that Zuckerberg and Facebook have long sought to tamp down conservative voices. That Facebook actually did at one point downplay conservative site links on their platform only stiffens the resolve of those who claim censorship.
Four different congresspersons — all four Republican — brought up the censorship of Diamond and Silk’s Facebook page on Wednesday. Zuckerberg responded to a question about the alleged censorship by saying, “in that specific case, our team made an enforcement error. And we have already gotten in touch with them to reverse it.”
But it’s not so easy. With such a large following, the pair have gotten plenty of notice from Fox News and even garnered vocal support this week from Roseanne Barr. And they even made a recent appearance on Trump’s favorite television show, Fox and Friends.
They’ve already proven to have staying power and now they’re the new martyrs for the right’s cries of censorship, offering a far more palatable, family-friendly narrative than the alt-right trolls that have been swept off Twitter.
With this new controversy, the spotlight on them will only grow and, with it, likely their popularity among conservatives. Whether or not their case will continue to be a thorn in Zuckerberg’s side is unknown, but don’t be surprised if the pair are able to leverage it to continue their journey into the right-wing stratosphere.