The often relentless positivity of the world of social media influencers has turned toxic after Clemmie Hooper, the blogger behind the Mother of Daughters Instagram account, which has 660, 000 followers, admitted to a secret life online in which she attacked rivals.
Hooper not only criticized other bloggers on the UK gossip forum Tattle.life under the name “Aliceinwanderlust”, but even called her own husband – also a popular influencer – a “class-A twat”.
Hooper, a part-time midwife, attracted a huge following for her posts about being a mother to her four children, becoming one of a number of Instagram influencers who havemade a careerfrom the medium. She documented her family’s idyllic-seeming life that included luxury holidays and photos of Pinterest-worthy home renovations.
But she ended up using her secret account to attack rival “mumfluencers”, including Bethie Hungerford, whom she labeled as desperate for fame. She also called the presenter and writer Candice Brathwaite “aggressive” and accused her of bringing all arguments back to race.
As much as being a grim tale of cyberbullying, the story also reveals a dark side to the influencer industry, in which brands pay social media celebrities toadvertise their wares.
Hooper apologized, saying that after hearing there were thousands of comments about her family on Tattle.life, she had started to feel paranoid and wanted to change people’s views.
On his Father of Daughters Instagram page, her husband, Simon, said: “I can’t condone or fully understand why Clemmie did what she did. Make no mistake about it – she made some bad choices… I’ve seen first-hand what three years of being attacked online can do to a person and the dark places it can drive you to. ”
Renae Smith, the director of The Atticism, a PR agency, said the influencer world was changing and in future there may be fewer people in these roles.
“We need to be more selective about who works with who and how an influencer can prove influential. It may mean relying on those with experience in the industry. That could become more important than looks and the amount of likes they can collect, ”she said.
Smith said some influencers had faced a backlash, with people posting screenshots of bloggers asking for free meals in exchange for posts. “It is problematic on both sides… but any form of shaming these people is not the way forward, we need to look at problem as a whole.”
Alice Judge-Talbot,who runs a lifestyle blog for women, said she had faced abuse on the Tattle.life forum. Judge-Talbot said she had suffered at the hands of those who commented on everything from her relationships to the way her son’s bedroom looks. “When I was moving house, I posted house details online and someone said my son’s bedroom looked like a prison cell. They made comments about how I look, ”she said.
Another well-known writer said behavior on the website had spilled out into the real world. “What they do is try and cause mischief in people’s lives… they make up lies. It’s bad enough to defame someone on a Googleable site, but to also go outside that and drive the narrative is even worse, ”they said. “It’s lawless. People can say what the hell they want on there. ”
A Tattle.life spokesperson said: “Tattle.life has a zero-tolerance policy towards content that is hateful, abusive, threatening, and we take the privacy of social media influencers far more seriously than they do themselves in many cases . We’re far more stringent with our rules and moderation than any of the big social media companies on our moderated forum.
“We allow commentary and critiques of people that choose to monetise their personal life as a business and release it into the public domain. Like all social media sites, anyone can join and post a comment, and we encourage people to report any that overstep the line as we take all reports very seriously. People that come to post abusive and hateful content are banned. ”