#bloggerblackmail: When writers are expecting a meal ticket, why should we trust their reviews?

A food blogger and a bakery had a very public spat about reviews this week

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The Independent Online

Blogger or blagger? That was the question posed on social media this week when a food blogger and a bakery had a spat about reviews and #bloggerblackmail started trending.

I won't name names but the story goes something like this. The blogger approached the west London shop suggesting she write a blog post in return for some free products; the bakery duly invited her along.

But it all went wrong when the blogger was offered samples she deemed inadequate and requested the owner increase the offer to £100 worth of free treats. The owner refused, a cringeworthy "don't you know who I am?" moment ensued, and the blogger insinuated that a bad review was on its way. She later bought some low-value products and posted negative comments about them on Instagram.

The shop responded with a blog post of its own, tellingly entitled "blackmailed by a blogger". The blogger then published her own version of events, saying she deserved suitable recompense for writing a post she claimed would take eight hours. The next thing both parties knew, the whole episode had gone viral and no one escaped unscathed.

The social media spat threw up numerous questions. Who was at fault here? Are bloggers legitimate food critics doing a job – or simply blaggers on the scrounge for free stuff? Is this story another example of the entitlement epidemic?

The blogging community would have you believe their blogs are businesses and they deserve adequate compensation for their labours. But while I'm all for writers getting paid, I'm not sure you can describe writing for sweet treats (presumably tax-free) as a business.

But the biggest question for consumers is: can you trust a food review when the writer got the grub for nothing?

Twitter: @emmalunn

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