KFC Sues China Firms: Our Chickens Don't Have 8 Legs
Chain tries to swat down social media smear campaigns
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 1, 2015 11:33 AM CDT
In this Feb. 25, 2013, file photo, a Chinese couple walk past a KFC at a shopping mall in Beijing.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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(Newser) – KFC says it filed a lawsuit against three companies in China whose social media accounts spread false rumors 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 illegal business practices for trying to manipulate online sentiment on behalf of clients by posting false information about competitors or deleting critical posts. In a post today on its Chinese website, KFC said one of the best-known fake rumors was that chickens used by the company are genetically modified and have six wings and eight legs.

KFC is demanding $242,000 and an apology from each of three companies that operated accounts on the popular mobile phone app WeChat. It's also seeking an immediate stop to their infringements. KFC China CEO Qu Cuirong said in a statement that it was hard for companies to protect their brands against rumors because of the difficulties in collecting 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. KFC, which has more than 4,600 restaurants in China, has had its share of PR problems there of its own making.