Two of President Trump's most ardent supporters, the YouTube stars known as Diamond and Silk, say a financial stranglehold has been placed on their videos.
Lynnette Hardway and Rochelle Richardson of North Carolina, whose support of Mr. Trump and no-nonsense delivery during the 2016 U.S. presidential season turned them into online sensations, said Thursday their YouTube videos have become casualties of the company's attempt to silence "extremism."
"@YouTube @TeamYouTube stopped over 95% percent of our videos from being monetized, stating: 'It's Not Suitable For All Advertisers,'" the two said in a series of tweets. "Wonder if @YouTube @TeamYouTube stopped the monetization of our videos because we are loyal supporters of the @POTUS. Hummmm. Sounds like Censorship to us, which is a Violation of our First Amendment. A Bias Method used to Silence our Conservative Voices. @YouTube, how was it OK to monetize our videos for the past two years and now those same videos are no longer eligible for monetization?"
The popular duo, who were also paid $1,275 for "field consulting" work by the Trump campaign, boast 89,000 subscribers on YouTube and another 361,000 on Twitter.
News of the largely demonetized channel comes less than two weeks since the company announced plans to fight inappropriate content.
"We'll soon be applying tougher treatment to videos that aren't illegal but have been flagged by users as potential violations of our policies on hate speech and violent extremism," the company announced Aug. 1 on its official blog. "If we find that these videos don't violate our policies but contain controversial religious or supremacist content, they will be placed in a limited state. The videos will remain on YouTube behind an interstitial, won't be recommended, won't be monetized, and won't have key features including comments, suggested videos, and likes."
Critics argue that YouTube's stated goal of blocking "extremist" content is rhetorical camouflage meant to hide the systematic silencing of popular right-leaning personalities.