- - Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I must admit that I do not really know anything about Diamond and Silk.

No, Diamond and Silk is not a strip mall boutique store, but rather a duo that have become YouTube celebrities.

They are prominent African American supporters of President Trump.

Admittedly, with the demands of modern-day identity politics, that support requires courage and conviction and for that those two should be respected.

But we must be honest about Diamond and Silk.

Today the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on alleged censorship on the social media platforms.

If that were the subject of the hearing, I would wholeheartedly support it.

Conservatives across the country are raising real questions about censorship online.

However, this committee is instead holding an entire hearing about Diamond and Silk, who happen to be the type of celebrities who traffic in conspiracies, like the ridiculous #Pizzagate hoax.

Facebook has acknowledged that it made some mistakes in communicating new guidelines for monetization of Facebook content, and thus Diamond and Silk were unaware that they were not complying with new standards.

But Diamond and Silk have claimed that Facebook never reached out to them and is thus censoring them for being conservative.

The conservative blogger and radio host Erick Erickson corroborated that Facebook did reach out to them. Predictably, Diamond and Silk called him a liar.

With the confidence of the intelligence community that Russia did interfere in our presidential election, and with the recent Mueller indictment of more than a dozen Russian nationals for these crimes, we know that social media platforms were being used to allow foreign citizens to attempt to influence a domestic election.

It is in everyone’s interest now that we ensure that such a thing can never happen again.

That subject was recently probed in a responsible U.S. Senate committee hearing that featured Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Which brings us back to today’s House committee hearing.

Is this really a hearing that will provide Congress and the public with new insight into the challenge of privacy and censorship online?

Should we not slow down and consider whether Congress is equipped to micromanage the content policies of private companies?

Last October, Facebook and Twitter officials were blasted by some of these same members of Congress over not doing enough to police fake speech on their platforms during the Russia investigation.

So now these platforms are working to police false content, and when they do so, Congress changes their mind.

This explains why government is paralyzed, ineffective and inefficient, and conversely, why the private sector operates far more efficiently.

Our obsession with political theater has brought us to the point where now a respected and important House committee will spend several hours taking testimony from two YouTube celebrities — all done at taxpayer expense.

We can all see that some new regulation of innovative social media platforms is coming.

Whatever form that regulation takes it should be thoughtful, careful, and appropriate.

Conservatives once opposed responding to hysterics with the heavy hand of governmental regulation because it is undeniable that regulation stifles innovation.

What’s the ideal scenario? These social media platforms should devise fair content policies and ensure foreign citizens cannot influence U.S. elections.

Doing so would be good business, and it would also limit the need for Congress to overreach.

Either way, Diamond and Silk are unlikely to provide any new or valuable information for Congress or the public to consider on an important public policy issue.

Matt Mackowiak is president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. He’s a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators. His “Mack on Politics” podcast is available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and on WashingtonTimes.com.

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