Earlier this week, an online feud between a British YouTuber and a Dublin hotel quickly escalated to bizarre heights with the luxury hotel deciding to ban all social media 'influencers' from its property
The whole thing started after YouTuber Elle Darby emailed The White Moose Café asking for a free accommodation in exchange for promoting the hotel via video about her experience in her YouTube channel, as well as Instagram Stories and posts.
However, the owner, Paul Stenson, shared Darby's email, while blacking out her name, on his Facebook page, accusing her of not having "self-respect and dignity".
"It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity," the hotel owner wrote while asking: "If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you?"
Paul's Facebook response, which mockingly asked Darby: "Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?", concluded with a "P.S. The answer is no."
Following which, the 22-year-old fitness & lifestyle blogger identified herself as the sender of the email and uploaded a 17-minute-long video, entitled "i was exposed (SO embarrassing)", on her YouTube channel saying she felt "humiliated" by his response
"This one's for my blogging angels!" Darby beings her YouTube video, before proclaiming, "I nevah evah feed into drama, evah!
"I feel so disgusting having to say this … as a 22-year-old girl running her own business from her home, I don't feel like I did anything wrong [in asking for a free stay]."
If you're late to the party, we cannot recommend this video enough.
What happened next is the classic example of how quickly things escalate and get messy thanks to social media.
The owner, Paul Stenson, who has previously banned vegans and has been described as a "pugilistic publicity-hound of an owner", shared a second post, banning all social media 'influencers'.
"The sense of entitlement is just too strong in the blogging community," he wrote.
"The nastiness, hissy fits and general hate displayed after one of your members was not granted her request for a freebie is giving your whole industry a bad name.
"The girl in question was never identified in my original post, but she herself went on to create a video explaining how she was “exposed” with “malicious intent” for asking for a freebie. This kind of victimization is very prevalent in the blogging industry, and is in keeping with their general modus operandi of wanting everything for nothing."
Now Paul is posting the unhinged messages Darby's followers and other bloggers are DMing his various social media accounts
And according to a BBC interview with Darby, the backlash has exposed her to a "tidal wave of hate" with people telling her "to die"
"I've had people telling me to top myself, asking me to go play in traffic and die - just for literally doing my job. People just are not taking responsibility for what they say online.
"For the service I was offering Paul, a lot of bloggers would've charged for that. Paul works in hotels, he will know this," Darby told BBC yesterday, 20 January.
Needless to say, nobody here is a winner.
It's a situation, which, ideally, should have died before being born with a simple and private "no, thank you" from Paul to Darby, that has turned into a headache-inducing online controversy.
However, backlash against social media influencers is not new.
Back in September last year, wedding guests of a Singaporean social media influencer were apparently upset that they had given ang pows (red packets) for a wedding that was heavily sponsored.