Online Only - You mean bloggers can't speak their minds?
Letter from Kaelyn Ong 07:30 PM Oct 12, 2009As an avid food blogger, I share my dining experiences (whether good or bad) with my readers. Sometimes, I would also send an email to the restaurants after dining there to offer my thanks and feedback. That was what I did after visiting a local pastry boutique (I will not disclose its name at this point. It will be referred to as "X"). I praised X on its boutique decor and also commented that the desserts can be further improved on.
The next day, I was shocked and disappointed to read X's reply. To cut a long email short, the gist is that she has referred my blog url to her legal consultant and wanted me to remove my post within 24hours to avoid any legal proceedings, if any. I was appalled by this and hence, decided to write to this forum as I believe this raised interesting questions that may be of interest to your readers.
1. Are local F&B players that unreceptive to negative feedback? I can understand that owners will naturally be defensive towards their business but criticisms are only meant to spur them on to improve further and add value. If feedback is not appreciated, then won't all the emphasis on good customer service be for naught? In the email, X accused me of influencing the readers and creating a misconception of its reputation. I highly doubt that X's email to me would be the same if I have written a fabulous review on them. Wouldn't that be hypocritical since I can also "influence" others with my good comments?
2. In recent years, food bloggers have been making a splash in the local dining scene. The more established ones have been invited to food tastings by restaurants, all in the hope of attracting more customers. As such, are food bloggers only "allowed" to write raving reviews and avoid negative ones? It disturbed me greatly that X actually wants me to remove my post just because it was not a glowing review. What does this say about free speech then? If bloggers are not permitted to speak their minds without being threatened by potential lawsuits, then what is the point of blogging? Of course, this is on the assumption that bloggers are socially responsible in viewing their views online for all to see. And has this type of incidents happened to other food bloggers before and they have not spoke up about it?
Of course, I did not remove the post on X as I believe that nothing I posted can be construed as being libel. Not once did I say any derogatory remarks or discourage readers not to visit X. There is also a disclaimer on my blog saying that all comments are based on personal preference. I have replied X's email yesterday but there has been no reply since.
This letter is definitely not a complaint. I am just concerned with this issue and would like to know what the public thinks about it. Food blogging is just a personal interest for many of us; it takes time, effort and commitment to maintain a blog.
Page 1 of 1
Edited by Ahtong, 13 October 2009 - 06:45 PM.