British vlogger Elle Darby is being shamed after an email she sent requesting a free stay at a Dublin hotel went viral. The social media influencer sent the email to White Moose Café saying she was interested in celebrating Valentine’s Day with her partner at their hotel – for free. In exchange for free accommodation, Darby offered a positive review and “exposure” on social media, citing her 79,000 Instagram followers and 90,000 YouTube subscribers.
Elle Darby, 22, said she struck up a similar business deal with Universal Orlando. As opposed to just rejecting the social media influencer, owner Paul Stenson posted her email to Facebook with a heated response: “Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure. It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity,” said Stenson. “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?” Although he blacked out her information, the YouTube vlogger says her name was easy to decipher.
The White Moose Café is known for its large social media following and previous conflict with vegans. Since the ordeal, both the hotel and the social media influencer have received their fair share of criticism. Darby says she’s received hateful messages on social media, including death threats. The 22-year-old posted the video “i was exposed (SO embarrassing)” to her YouTube channel the day the incident occurred. In the video, she argues that offering an establishment exposure in exchange for freebies is common for bloggers. Stenson says Darby exposed herself when she created the YouTube video.
After she posted the video, which received over 2.1 million views, Darby was accused of being ageist for suggesting people over 30 aren’t familiar with the blogging community or the social media economy. After receiving further backlash, the blogger posted a follow-up video denying the accusations of ageism. She explained the majority of negative comments she’d received were from an older crowd and that the verbal abuse has caused her severe anxiety.
The White Moose Café is also experiencing backlash from bloggers defending Darby’s actions. The hotel owner has expressed his distaste for the blogging community, barring them from his hotel: “I never thought we would be inundated with negative reviews for the simple reason that somebody was required to pay for goods received or services rendered,” said Stenson on Facebook. “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.”
Stenson even posted an “invoice” for Darby, charging over 5 million euros for all the publicity he’d given her. He’s also selling t-shirts reading “I got exposed by the White Moose” and “I demanded freebies at the White Moose Café and all I got was this lousy Tshirt.” In her latest video, Darby says her issue with Stenson is his reaction: “A very simple way to have gone about it would have just been a ‘no’ or for the email to be ignored instead of me having death threats.”
The social media influencer also addressed the harmful comments on the internet on her video: “A lot of the time it doesn’t feel like you’re actually saying it to the person… but words can have a very negative impact on somebody’s mental state.” Darby said the situation escalated to a level she never expected, thanking those who defended her and saying she’s happy the situation brought awareness to the blogging community. Stenson posted a Facebook picture of a jug containing “tears of bloggers” next to “the ashes of vegans.”