BEIJING- Restaurant operator Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has pressed charges against three Chinese companies whose social media accounts allegedly spread false claims about its food.
One of the best-known fake rumors was that KFC’s chickens are genetically modified and have six wings and eight legs, Inquirer reported.
KFC, which is China’s biggest restaurant operator with more than 4,600 branches, has filed a lawsuit while the government intensified its campaign to clean up rumors on social media. Inquirer reported that in China, internet marketers have been convicted of trying to manipulate online sentiment on behalf of clients through posting false information about competitors or deleting critical posts.
KFC is demanding 1.5 million yuan ($242,000) and a public apology from each of the three companies that operated accounts on popular mobile phone app WeChat. The restaurant operator also seeks for an immediate stop to the companies’ alleged violations. The Shanghai Xuhui District People’s Court has accepted the case, according to the report.
The food chain’s China CEO Qu Cuirong said in a statement that it was hard for companies to protect their brands against rumors since collecting evidences are difficult.
“But the stepped-up efforts by the government in recent years to purify the onine environment, as well as some judicial interpretations, have offered us confidence and weapons,” she explained.
The companies under the lawsuit were identified as Shanxi Weilukuang Technology Company Ltd., Taiyuan Zero Point Technology Company and Yingchenanzhi Success and Culture Communication Ltd. in Shenzhen city. Inquirer reported the companies have not issued any statement regarding the issue.
Two years ago, authorities launched a renewed campaign to clean up online rumors, negativity and unruliness spreading online. Critics claim the campaign was largely directed at suppressing criticism of the ruling Communist Party. Commentaries in state media have argued that an online cleanup was needed.