"I realized this is more like (an) attack because … we did not give him, like, $100 off,” he said.
We understand that we have a small platform here in the social media, and we don’t get as much voice as other media influencers especially with Asian cuisine. Most of time the restaurants don’t have any social accounts or time to manage their accounts. An intentionally bad write-up from a large following influencer because of our refusal to accept their collaboration is unprofessional and a such hostile manner can simply ruin their businesses.
I want to step up because we felt threatened by this media influencer. I want to give a voice to my Asian community that is ok to say no and turn down any promotional offers, no fear to stand up and defend yourself.
Wei ended with his recollection of a recent racial epithet shouted at him the same week:
It reminds me last Saturday at the back of our restaurant parking lot. A guy called me CHINK simply because I ignored his random cursing. I walked up to him even though he was two times bigger than me. There was no fight because there was a nice guy pulling that crazy guy away. What I want to say here is that we respect freedom of speech, but everything has its limit. When you feel disrespectful from anyone anytime, we should all stand up to fight for yourself and the community.
Fans and new supporters of the restaurants have rallied while the post has received over 28,000 likes.
Which means Malik has received a comparable number of new haters. He initially refuted the idea that he would ever "take money for a (positive) review and never leave a (negative) review just because someone didn’t want to work with me," in his Instagram bio, later taking down the page over "death threats."
Today Malik's account stands again, with the words "We cannot change the past. We can only take action in the present and, therefore, change the future" next to his shirtless photo on Instagram.
It doesn't take much of a leap to perceive his exchange with Wei as the case of a big city influencer going to a smaller market, and attempting to swing his big city ego energy around in the hopes of eating well on the cheap.
Whether or not that was Malik's intention, the case is a perfect demonstration of why anyone opining negatively about their food better steer clear of potential conflicts of interest. We need to trust that what we're being told is the truth, with no trace of outside influence other than service to the reader or audience.
The PR industry professionals L.A. TACO have spoken to frequently complain about an environment thick with Instagram hustlers asking for favors, while simultaneously casting doubt on the impact of influencer coverage on a business's bottom line.
Being mentioned in "Best Of" lists and guides tend to get butts into seats, we're told, whereas influencer coverage on social media tends to be something quick and easy that large PR companies can show to their clients to look like they're doing something for them.
At least in this case, Wei's standing up to the bad influence of a popular influencer helped expose the questionable practices amid this environment, thick with scammers and wannabes who can buy thousands of followers for a fiver in the hopes of ransacking local businesses for their suites and tasting menus.