Overnight Tech: Sparks fly as Diamond and Silk testify | EU proposes new rules for internet companies | FTC back at full strength

Overnight Tech: Sparks fly as Diamond and Silk testify | EU proposes new rules for internet companies | FTC back at full strength
© Greg Nash

DIAMOND AND SILK GET A GRILLING: The conservative YouTube duo managed to go viral again on Thursday - this time thanks to a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill that lit up social media.

Democrats clashed with pro-Trump personalities Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson -- better known as "Diamond and Silk" -- over alleged social media bias against conservatives during a House Judiciary hearing on Thursday.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, bashed the entire premise of the hearing during his remarks.

"[Republicans] have prioritized this spectacle over every other kind of conversation we should be having today and we should have been having for the past year," Nadler said.

The New York lawmaker said claims the YouTube personalities had been censored or discriminated against by the social media platforms didn't stand up to any scrutiny, nor did broader claims of conservative bias.

"Diamond and Silk's tremendous reach and growth is evidence that they haven't been censored," he said.

During their questioning, the duo fired back, charging Democrats with being biased themselves.

"If the shoe was on the other foot and Mark Zuckerberg was a conservative and we were liberals, all fences and chains would have broke loose," Hardaway said.

Lawmakers also questioned Hardaway and Richardson about inconsistencies during their testimony...

 

Trump campaign money: Diamond and Silk claimed under oath at the hearing that they were never paid for their consulting work by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE's 2016 presidential campaign.

Federal campaign finance filings show otherwise.

"We have never been paid by the Trump campaign," Lynette Hardaway, who goes by Diamond, told Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Live coverage: Justice IG testifies before House on report criticizing FBI Merkley leads Dem lawmakers to border amid migrant policy outcry MORE (D-Texas).

Filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show that the campaign paid the duo $1,275 on Nov. 22, 2016, for "field consulting."

Richardson dismissed the claim as "fake news."

Trump team's response: Bradley Crate, the Trump campaign's treasurer, issued a statement Thursday afternoon chalking up the confusion to a "reasonable misunderstanding" based on semantics. "The campaign's payment to Diamond and Silk for field consulting was based on an invoice they submitted reflecting their costs for air travel to a campaign event," Crate said. "The invoice was not supported by accompanying receipts, so as a technical matter, could not be reported as a reimbursement even though its purpose was to make them whole for their out-of-pocket costs."

 

Were they censored? Hardaway and Richardson repeatedly claimed that they had been censored by Facebook, relaying accounts of what they claimed were otherwise-unexplained declines in their viewership numbers and anecdotes from fans who said their videos have become harder to find.

Richardson also answered "yes" when asked if Diamond and Silk were "blocked" on Facebook, despite being unable to produce any record of this.

Democrats were skeptical.

"Diamond and Silk's tremendous reach and growth is evidence that they haven't been censored," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, responded.

 

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IVANKA TALKS SKILLS TRAINING: Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpIvanka Trump's fashion line dropped from Hudson's Bay due to 'performance' Trump's harsh immigration policies are a gift for human traffickers Let’s not talk about family leave without talking about child care MORE and her husband Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTenants in rent-controlled Kushner Cos. buildings say they were pushed out: report Mexico's president presses Pompeo on reuniting migrant families Hillicon Valley: Mueller indicts Russians for DNC hack | US officially lifts ZTE ban | AT&T CEO downplays merger challenge | Microsoft asks for rules on facial recognition technology | Dems want probe into smart TVs MORE hosted a group of CEOs and senators at their home last night and discussed reauthorizing the Perkins Act, which is aimed at improving the workforce through jobs training, according to a source familiar with the event.

The issue has been on the minds of many tech leaders and the source said that it was a "priority topic" for the president's daughter.

Among those who attended last night's dinner were Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharBooker seizes on Kavanaugh confirmation fight Democrats build abortion case against Kavanaugh  The animating forces behind the Democratic Party are true, radical leftists MORE (D-Minn.), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSens introduce bipartisan bill matching Zinke proposed maintenance backlog fix Supreme Court vacancy throws Senate battle into chaos Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion groups see chance to overturn Roe v. Wade with Kennedy retirement | HHS watchdog to probe detention center conditions | VA pick vows to oppose privatization MORE (R-Tenn.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs America must act to ensure qualified water workforce Overnight Health Care: Big win at Supreme Court for anti-abortion centers | HHS chief grilled on migrant children | Boom time for ObamaCare insurers? MORE (R-W.Va.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziForcing faith-based agencies out of the system is a disservice to women Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs Ryan throws weight behind two-year spending reform MORE (R-Wyo.), and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDoug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee Red-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (D-N.D.). Business leaders in attendance included IBM chief Ginni Rometty, Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush and Josh Bolton, the president of the Business Roundtable.

 

EU PROPOSES NEW REGS FOR TECH: The European Commission put forth a proposal today to regulate how internet platforms treat businesses that rely on their services to reach consumers.

The rules would require companies like Google and Facebook to lay out clearly in their terms of service how their algorithms might affect the prominence that businesses have in their feeds.

"These new online market places drive growth and innovation in the EU, but we need a set of clear and basic rules to ensure a sustainable and predictable business environment," Andrus Asip, the commission's vice president for the digital market, said in a statement Thursday.

 

Some tech groups are already concerned about the move: "The idea of regulation directed solely at platforms is questionable," Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, said in a statement. "We hope that the Commission's proposal on platform to business operations finds the right balance of allowing economic growth to continue while narrowly tailoring policy to ensure it addresses concrete concerns."

 

SENATE DEMS WANT TO HALT FCC MEDIA MOVES: A group of Senate Dems is calling on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to hold off on making any more moves on media ownership until the agency conducts a review of the broadcasting landscape.

"When combined with the troubling trend by some broadcasters of using corporately-developed national news content as a substitute for local journalism, your recent actions risk making the 'local' in local broadcasting a thing of the past," the 22 senators wrote, referencing Sinclair Broadcast Group's "must-run" programming.

 

Background: Sinclair is currently awaiting FCC approval for its merger with Tribune Media, a deal that Democrats have criticized as a worrisome consolidation of media power.

Dems have called on Pai to recuse himself from the Sinclair review after it was revealed that the inspector general was investigating the chairman's relationship with the company.

 

FTC BACK TO FULL STRENGTH: The Senate unanimously confirmed Trump's full slate of FTC nominees Thursday, bringing the agency back to full strength for the first time in more than 15 months.

Republican antitrust attorney Joseph Simons will be chairing the commission. Also confirmed Thursday were two other Republicans -- Noah Phillips, an aide to Sen. John CornynJohn CornynRussians' indictment casts shadow ahead of Trump-Putin summit Top GOP senator: Trump should be 'clear-eyed' going into meeting with Putin Doug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee MORE (Texas) and Delta Air Lines executive Christine Wilson -- plus two Democrats -- Rohit Chopra, a consumer advocate and former CFPB official, and Rebecca Slaughter, an adviser to Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Trump's latest win: More Americans are saying, 'I quit!' MORE (N.Y.).

The agency has been operating with just two commissioners for the past 15 months, and the one Democrat at the agency, Terrell McSweeny, was set to step down on Friday.

 

SPACE WEATHER: Lawmakers on Thursday held a hearing on ways to boost research on space weather, reports The Hill's Maya Lora.

The House Science Subcommittees on Space and the Environment held a joint hearing with witnesses who called for more funding and resources to predict how weather conditions in space could affect Earth.

The full committee chairman, Rep. Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithLawmakers scold NASA for cost overruns Big Tobacco’s smoke and mirrors revived by Pruitt’s science transparency policy Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights MORE (R-Texas), said space weather such as solar storms could knock satellites out of orbit, damage the electric grid and expose astronauts or those in airplanes to radiation.

But Republicans grappled with the costs of addressing the problem, with Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) calling for private sector partnerships to expand research.

"As the private sector continues to move into low-Earth orbit, more and more companies will be relying on space weather predictions to protect their assets," Babin said. "Space weather is another area of great commercial opportunity in space, and, as we have in the past, we must continue to encourage and leverage these private endeavors for the benefit of all Americans."

 

ON TAP:

The House Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on robocalls and caller ID spoofing at 9 a.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

British MPs are considering using summons power to force Zuckerberg to testify if he enters the UK  

Bloomberg: Facebook CTO says only verified accounts will be allowed to pay for political ads in the UK and users will be able to view all promotions paid for by a campaign

CNBC: Facebook admits it did not read terms of the app that harvested data of 87 million

The Ringer: Beware the data brokers

DHS chief on unfilled cybersecurity positions: We're working on it