When I first read the tweet on “Food Blogger asked to delete post”, I was bewildered. Most of the Singaporean food reviews that I have came across online can probably be regarded as fair opinions. In general, comments are targeted towards the eateries’ service, which I assume to be factual, or towards the taste/presentation/price of the food and ambience , which are subjective.

So on what basis could the eatery sue the blogger? Is there a case to fight in the first place?

As written in the Straits Times article published on 19 Oct 2009: “Lawyers say a criticism in an entry is allowed by law if it is based on fact and made without malice.” You can find out more about the incident and different viewpoints from this article. And please judge for yourself if the blog entry in question is considered malicious here.

As a half food blogger myself, I am relatively saddened by this event. I tend to see the social media as a market place of ideas and I am very gratified to see that in Singapore, netizens are generally given many avenues to raise their opinions and share their views. In this marketplace of ideas, I believe that there are differing views, but each view stands in its own right. Take Kaelyn’s post on Obolo for instance, she may not be much of a fan of the desserts there but Miss Glitzy and friends thought rather highly of the Obolo macarons we tasted. And I think both our opinions are valid.

I spoke to a couple of people who are well-informed in the legal arena and they suggested that I should regard this episode seriously and avoid writing negative reviews. I was quite appalled by these comments, coming from people who know the law better than I do. Like a journalist who has his or her integrity, a blogger has his or her credibility at stake. I wonder if anyone will continue to read my blog if I only broadcast the good and hide the bad? Or on the other hand, will other bloggers practice self-censorship in their reviews in future?

Where do we go from here? I think there are learning points for both the bloggers and companies alike.

Companies can learn to embrace the social media. The Internet is speedy and easily accessible. There is no way they can try to control or clamp down on the content without the risk of a backlash. Being constructive and responsive towards negative feedback might help to score some PR brownie points instead.

As for the bloggers, I think the days of regarding your blog as your personal diary is long gone. If you choose to blog without a password-lock, you are writing on the public domain. If you are blogging about companies or even people, you may wish to exercise some social responsibility. Be truthful and fair, not overly emotional.

These are just my humble two-cents. Do share your views with Miss Glitzy! :)

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