WRITTEN BY AUTUMN CLOUDEN
Fast food chain KFC filed a lawsuit against three firms in China on Monday for allegedly using social media accounts to spread rumors about the company’s food products.
KFC — owned by Yum Brands Inc. — wrote a statement on its Chinese website citing that the companies spread false information, “misleading consumers” through blogs and photos, according to the Wall Street Journal.
One of the rumors claimed KFC used genetically modified chickens with eight legs and six wings, according to the New York Daily News.
The companies facing the suit are Ying Chen An Zhi Chenggong Culture Communications Ltd., Wei Lu Kuang Technology and Ling Dian Technology. KFC is seeking compensation of 1.5 million yuan ($242,000) and an apology from the companies. KFC is also demanding that the companies be prohibited from engaging in any future infringement practices.
The news comes shortly after Chinese government officials intensified campaign efforts to clean up rumors spread on social media.
KFC ‘s China CEO Qu Cuirong explained in a statement the hardships companies face in protecting their brands against rumors due to the difficulty of collecting enough evidence.
“But the stepped-up efforts by the government in recent years to purify the online environment, as well as some judicial interpretations, have offered us confidence and weapons,” she said according to the New York Times.
Internet marketers have been convicted in China for manipulating customers by using illegal practices to damage the competitor’s reputation and deleting posts for clients, The Guardian reported.
“China’s social media is full of companies that will create content — positive and negative — for brands,” said Sam Flemming, founder of social media analysis company Kantar Media CIC, according to the Wall Street Journal.
KFC has been trying to regain consumers’ trust after experiencing similar problems in protecting the company’s image in 2012, when China media alleged that a KFC supplier used growth hormones and antibiotics so that the chickens could grow faster.
KFC has more than 4,600 restaurants in China.