A food and travel influencer was shocked by the comments she started receiving from a company.
She emailed the CEO of ParchmentPaper.com to inform him of what was happening.
But she realized it was him leaving the comments all along when he replied and doubled down.
A paper entrepreneur has faced backlash and seen his company's reviews tank after he left critical comments on an influencer's Instagram page using his official business account.
Food and travel influencer Rupica Sudan posted a TikTok at the end of January, describing what she felt was an odd experience with ParchmentPaper.com.
Sudan said she'd posted a video of her and her dad cooking together and seen a comment that she felt was unwarranted.
"Must be a tough life living life on easy mode," it said.
Not knowing if it was a joke, Sudan replied, saying she was lucky she had parents who made her life possible.
"Ya we get it," another comment shot back. "You have no skills and family money."
Sudan was shocked because the comments came from the official company Instagram page for the website ParchmentPaper.com.
She then assumed it had been hacked, so she emailed the company's CEO, Brandon Howard, to let him know.
"I'm like hey, I think somebody's on your business account leaving cyber-bullying comments," she said. "And then I get an email from the CEO."
According to Sudan, Howard responded to her email, but not in the way she expected. He doubled down.
He said he didn't consider stating "factual information" as cyberbullying, and if Sudan was offended, she should "call the cyberbullying police", Sunday said.
"Delete the comment and move on. Cheers."
The email, which was seen by Business Insider, ended with Howard's signature and phone number.
Shocked by the 'crazy' response
Sudan told BI that she was "in shock" at the response, after assuming she had been doing the company a favor.
"I remember reading that and just being like, wait, what?" she said.
She told BI she asked Howard why he thought she was "this spoiled trust fund kid," but that just led him to "triple down" on his attack.
Howard, she said, left another comment on her Instagram, ridiculing her for emailing him, saying it was "hilarious."
"Enjoy frolicking through life and leave the rest up to us adults who create actual economic value without a trust fund," he wrote, according to Sudan.
Sudan said she didn't know whether to laugh or be angry.
The internet had its say
This incident shows just how quickly comments and arguments on social media can spiral out of control, inflicting reputational and economic damage.
Company leaders misbehaving on social media has become more common in recent years, with HBO's CEO ordering employees to troll TV critics who gave the network's shows poor reviews and the head of an AI app laying off most of his staff then bragging about it.
This latest incident, however, has struck a chord with viewers. Sudan's video amassed 2.3 million views and generated thousands of comments where people expressed disbelief.
"That email is WILD from a CEO," one person wrote. Another asked: "Who hurt this man?"
"Are they are publicly listed company?" one commenter asked. "If I was an investor and my CEO acted like this, I would be calling for a vote of no confidence."
"Why is a parchment paper company picking fights online?" another asked.
Some viewers also brought their concerns to TrustPilot, and left negative reviews, causing the company's rating to tank to one star.
The page is currently locked and new reviews cannot be added.
The top review is titled "Very disturbing customer service," and cites Howard's need for a PR representative.
"His obtuse grasp on customer service, public relations, and optics is frightening," it says. "Absolutely disgusting and concerning behavior."
Sudan provided an update a few days later, saying she had received more emails from Howard, this time asking her to take her video down, and threatening legal action.
"I don't believe it's defamatory," Sudan said. "Because I have proof of your name saying all of those things."
Sudan later posted another update, sharing a screenshot of another email telling her to remove her videos.
"Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this critical situation," it read.
"If you choose to not publicly make a statement instructing your followers and fan base to SEIZE AND DESIST 100% from their attacks against our staff and company, every day we have to exhaust time and resources to, is just making our case against you further solidified."
Sudan noted multiple typos in the emails, and the use of "seize" instead of "cease" in the demand for her to stop.
"Who's doing your spellcheck?" she asked.
In a further TikTok, Sudan said someone had used her work email to sign up for pornography sites. She didn't have proof that Howard was behind this, but the IP address of the sign-up came from California, where he is based.
Sudan told BI since her final video, Howard has tried to remediate the situation through her own workplace by reaching out to her boss.
"It was very inappropriate," she said. "They think because it involved their company, they had to involve mine."
ParchmentPaper.com's Instagram account is currently unavailable. But after Sudan posted her videos, several stories referenced the situation.
In some, the posts further mocked people "with no life skills."
But others referenced the barrage of messages the company had received and claimed to have collected the IP addresses of anyone who sent them.
One post said this information would be included in a defamation lawsuit, "so get your daddy's checkbook ready."
Sudan said the way Howard has handled everything has been "unfortunate."
She also gave advice to anyone thinking about leaving heated comments on a stranger's page.
"Do it from a troll account," she said. "Don't do it from your company's account."
In a statement to BI, Howard said: "The fact that because somebody didn't 'like' a smirky sarcastic comment on IG, gives them no right to incite an entire hate mob fueled by cancel culture enthusiasts.
"Anything outside of the original comments regarding skills and money, were not me and were more than likely manufactured by the mob to further push their agenda as I guess there was a tiktok etc made to look like us that actually made additional screenshots or something, which I've never even had a tiktok or even have the app on my phone."
Howard denied that his comments were abusive or aggressive, and said they weren't enough to justify receiving thousands of phone calls, emails, texts, spam signups, and death threats.
"I've already apologized for the original comment but it just seems like it's a huge joke for these 'influencers" who have no idea what it's like to actually create economic value yet throw a huge negative media storm to make somebody elses' life worse," he added.
"Never would I set out to negatively impact the ability for somebody else to feed their family, pay bills or damage something they have worked years and years towards not to mention the several hundred thousand dollars being risked."
Read the original article on Business Insider