Facebook was reportedly forced to remove as many as 20,000 posts relating to a conspiracy theory surrounding PepsiCo snack foods after the company filed an interim order to block references to the theory in the Delhi High Court in New Delhi, India.
Following legal action from Pepsico, Facebook has been forced to delete approximately 20,000 posts relating to a conspiracy theory surrounding the company’s snack “Kurkure,” a corn puff product made for sale in India, Gizmodo reports. The conspiracy theory surrounding Kurkure is that the snack food is in fact made of plastic rather than corn. This conspiracy has spawned numerous YouTube videos and tweets alleging that the snack food is not suitable for human consumption. Many of these posts have become blatantly satirical but that doesn’t seem to have stopped PepsiCo from taking legal action to ensure that their product is not disparaged online.
According to Indian news website Medianama, PepsiCo obtained an interim order from the Delhi High Court to block any references to the conspiracy theory online in the country, the company reported petitioned for 3,412 Facebook links, 20,244 Facebook posts, 242 YouTube videos, 6 Instagram links, and 562 tweets to be removed from each platform.
— Kurkure (@KurkureSnacks) October 6, 2014
PepsiCo argues that the social media posts defame their brand, however many of the posts about the brand were blatantly jokes or satirical in nature, such as novelist Samit Basu who tweeted in February that he had gone from never thinking about the corn puff chip to becoming convinced it was made of plastic:
I've gone from having zero thoughts about Kurkure to complete and utter conviction that they are made entirely of plastic.
— Samit Basu (@samitbasu) February 21, 2018
This tweet was not deleted but Twitter users with their country set to India will not be able to view it. PepsiCo issued a statement to MediaNama saying:
Kurkure is a 100% safe, vegetarian snack made from trusted, high quality everyday kitchen ingredients like rice, dal, corn, gram and roasted spices. It’s an extremely loved brand and consumed by families across India. However, rumors suggesting that Kurkure has plastic in it have plagued the brand. It’s for this reason we’ve called out the ingredients of Kurkure proactively in all our communication and have been transparent about its manufacturing by taking consumers to our plants to see the process themselves. We constantly urge consumers to not fall prey to baseless rumors and to enjoy their pack of Kurkure.
So this case has proven two things: PepsiCo cannot take a joke, and companies such as Facebook and Twitter can be easily forced by government bodies to remove disagreeable content.