If you were to have only watched or read Fox News over the past week, there’s a not bad chance you might believe Lynnette Hardaway as well as Rochelle Richardson, two pro-Trump social media personalities most commonly known as “Diamond & Silk, ” had been banned or censored by Facebook.
The problem is usually the idea wasn’t true. Hardaway as well as Richardson, who are sisters via North Carolina, were at one point earlier This kind of month erroneously told by Facebook of which their content had been deemed “unsafe for the community,” nevertheless the Diamond & Silk page was never banned. the idea was never taken down. the idea was never censored. Data via an analytics firm owned by Facebook shows the idea has not lost a significant amount of its influence on the social network. At least one of their complaints appears to have been the result not of an anti-conservative bias, nevertheless a technical issue with how a post on their page was set up.
nevertheless Fox News as well as a cluster of conservative outlets fueled of which narrative. Fox News allowed the two sisters to go on some of its top shows, including “Fox & Friends” as well as “The Ingraham Angle,” as well as claim they had been censored, as well as do so unchallenged. as well as, sparked by Fox News’ coverage, some other online media organizations on the right published stories in line with the same narrative.
Related: Will the spate of lawsuits against fringe media stop the flow of conspiracy theories?
The tidal wave of media coverage didn’t just mislead viewers; the idea likely influenced the Mark Zuckerberg hearings on Capitol Hill. Several lawmakers chose to use at least a portion of their time questioning the Facebook chief to ask him about the supposed censorship of Hardaway as well as Richardson. The hearings were scheduled to address Facebook’s use as well as protection of user data inside wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Throughout last week, officials working on Facebook’s public relations effort attempted to set the record straight. They reached out to Hardaway as well as Richardson. They reached out to Fox News. nevertheless the idea was all to no avail.
The controversy was rooted in some legitimate grounds. The two sisters said on their page of which Facebook, after months of communication over their complaints of what they believe is usually decreased engagement with their page, had sent them a message notifying them of which their content had been determined to be “unsafe for the community.”
of which message certainly sounded bizarre as well as, when Hardaway as well as Richardson appeared on “Fox & Friends,” the idea touched off a frenzied news cycle on the right. Articles sprouted up everywhere, via Fox News’ own website to Breitbart to The Gateway Pundit.
the idea was a story of which fit perfectly into a conservative media narrative of which posits the large tech platforms are biased against conservatives. as well as when conservative media outlets told the story, the idea more often fit of which narrative than the facts. The Gateway Pundit, for instance, inaccurately wrote in a headline of which the duo had “been censored.” Others made similar rhetorical leaps, suggesting of which Facebook had taken certain actions against the page, like banning or suspending the idea, of which the idea had not.
Related: Netflix is usually unstoppable
After the whirlwind of coverage, Facebook said in a statement of which the message Hardaway as well as Richardson received was “inaccurate” as well as “not reflective” of how the idea communicates with page owners. The company added of which the idea had reached out to Hardaway as well as Richardson to discuss the issue.
An examination of data available via CrowdTangle, an analytics firm owned by Facebook, also showed of which the Diamond & Silk page followed normal traffic patterns of peaks as well as valleys, as well as was on the uptick headed into April. The data, first reported on by the liberal website Think Progress, showed the page had experienced a 47% increase in likes over the past 12 months.
The news cycle, however, did not end in light of these facts. Hardaway as well as Richardson prompted a second wave of headlines in conservative media when they disputed Facebook’s assertion of which the idea had communicated with them, as well as continued to suggest of which their page as well as its content were being suppressed by the social media company. On Wednesday, they sent out a fundraising email asking for help to stop Facebook’s “censorship.”
Emails obtained by CNN, which were first reported by conservative commentator Erick Erickson, call into question Hardaway as well as Richardson’s claim of which Facebook did not communicate directly with them after the controversy began. On Monday at 4:46 p.m. PT, Neil Potts, who works in Facebook’s Product Policy department, emailed Hardaway as well as Richardson at the address listed with their Facebook account to notify them of which the first message they had been sent informing them their content was “unsafe” was “inaccurate.”
Potts explained Facebook’s policies to Hardaway as well as Richardson as well as concluded, writing, “We sincerely apologize again for the mishandled communications as well as are available as well as eager to connect by phone to review outstanding questions you may have.”
Related: Fox News analyst blasts network as ‘propaganda machine’ while announcing departure
Several hours later, at 9:45 p.m. PT, Potts sent another message, This kind of one CC’ed to the email address provided on Hardaway as well as Richardson’s website: “I previously sent the following email to the accounts you had on file, as well as I am at This kind of point resending the idea to your Diamond as well as Silk email account as well. I look forward to catching up at your earliest convenience.”
nevertheless on Monday night’s “Ingraham Angle,” which aired at 10 p.m. ET, hours after Facebook’s first message had been sent, Hardaway claimed, “Nobody has communicated with Diamond & Silk. to ensure is usually a lie of which Facebook is usually putting out there.”
On early Tuesday morning, the company attempted to reach the sisters by phone. A representative for Facebook said the company tried calling Hardaway as well as Richardson on Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. PT as well as 10:30 a.m. PT. Facebook also used its official company account to leave a comment on a Facebook post in which Hardaway as well as Richardson said they had not heard via the company. as well as late Wednesday night Pacific time, Facebook used its official Twitter account to tweet at them three times.
nevertheless on Thursday, the sisters were back on Fox News, claiming of which the company had only reached out to them through Twitter. The false claims went unchallenged by host Neil Cavuto, despite Erickson having previously reported on the emails sent by Facebook, as well as ThinkProgress having already reported the CrowdTangle data.
Instead, Cavuto asked, “Do you think Mark Zuckerberg does have a bias against conservative sites — conservative participants?” Hardaway eagerly replied, “Yes we do.” She then repeated, unchallenged, the allegations of which Facebook was suppressing content on the Diamond & Silk page.
Related: How the Trump-friendly National Enquirer has been promoting his presidency
In social media posts on Friday, the sisters continued claiming their content was being suppressed by Facebook. They pointed to a post on their page of which had low reach as well as was not eligible for “boosting” — an option Facebook offers accounts whereby they can pay to make a post reach more users. Facebook responded on Twitter, noting the post in question had a “Send Message” call to action. “If you have messages turned off on your page, of which would likely explain why you can’t boost the post, as well as why people aren’t seeing the idea,” Facebook said.
In an emailed statement sent Friday, Hardaway as well as Richardson told CNN, “We’ve made contact with Facebook as well as are looking forward to getting This kind of matter resolved.” The two sisters did not respond to follow up questions about why they had claimed Facebook had not contacted them.
By Friday, the idea seemed of which Fox News — a representative for which did not respond to requests for comment — was starting to back off the claims made by Hardaway as well as Richardson. Cavuto hosted another segment on the issue, nevertheless This kind of time appeared more skeptical of the sisters’ claims. “I do not know what the real skinny is usually,” he conceded. some other panelists on his show suggested perhaps there was a broader point to be made about big tech being biased against conservative viewpoints, nevertheless noted Hardaway as well as Richardson’s case might not be the best example.
Fox News did not respond to requests for comment.
CNNMoney (completely new York) First published April 15, 2018: 5:53 PM ET