KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) has said enough to the parade of crazy rumors about their food and have sought legal satisfaction from Chinese companies that promote hoaxes that damage their finger-lickin’ good reputation.
Restaurant operator KFC said Monday it filed a lawsuit against three companies in China whose social media accounts spread false claims about its food, including that its chickens have eight legs.
The case filed by China’s biggest restaurant operator comes as the government intensifies a campaign to clean up rumors on social media. Internet marketers have been convicted of trying to manipulate online sentiment on behalf of clients by posting false information about competitors or deleting critical posts.
Let’s be clear, this is not “Big Restaurant” taking it to the little guy, this is a reaction against false claims that are being made deliberately to hurt the business. KFC is demanding 1.5 million yuan ($242,000) and an apology from companies operating on the WeChat app. The case has been accepted in China. I doubt it would be feasible to do this in the U.S.
There are several urban legends that have circulated about the food chain and their products. You can check out Snopes for about 9 that have directly used the KFC brand by name. In fact, one of the very first urban legends I recall looking up on Snopes related to the ridiculous (and quite obviously false) claim that they used mutant chickens with no beaks or feet!
Business Insider takes a stab at debunking the rumors that prompted the legal action in China. The same silly stories gain attention through sites like Daily Buzz Live. (Remember that Argumentum ad populum is a fallacy: just because it’s a common “belief” does not make it true.) While the efforts to police claims on the Chinese networks seem to have been aimed at political rumor mongering, KFC has more than 4,600 restaurants in China, a critical market, and are using this opportunity to fight back against the damaging stories and stop a slide in revenue. The Wall Street Journal reported trouble started with a media report in November 2012 alleging that a KFC supplier had been using growth hormones and antibiotics on their chickens which sparked concern for food safety.