PepsiCo really doesn't want anyone talking shit about its corn puffs online. There is a rumour that Kurkure, a corn puff product developed by the company in India, is made of plastic. The conspiracy theory naturally thrived online, where people posted mocking videos and posts questioning whether the snack contained plastic. In response, PepsiCo obtained an interim order from the Delhi High Court to block all references to this conspiracy theory online in the country, MediaNama reports.
Hundreds of posts claiming that Kurkure contains plastic have already been blocked across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, according to LiveMint and the court order requires social networks to continue to block such posts. According to MediaNama, PepsiCo petitioned for 3412 Facebook links, 20244 Facebook posts, 242 YouTube videos, six Instagram links and 562 tweets to be removed, a request the court has granted.
— Kurkure (@KurkureSnacks) October 6, 2014
PepsiCo's argument is that these rumours are untrue and defame the brand — though it's evident that a number of the posts are satirical in tone, poking fun at the rumour rather than earnestly trying to spread misinformation. Many are relatively benign. "I've gone from having zero thoughts about Kurkure to complete and utter conviction that they are made entirely of plastic", novelist Samit Basu tweeted in February. Like other affected social media posts, that tweet was not deleted but it is now being withheld from users who have their country set to India.
As stands, outside of India, it's easy to find posts alleging that Kurkure contains plastic. A cursory search on YouTube and Facebook yields a bunch of videos of people setting the snack on fire to either debunk or "prove" the hoax.
"Kurkure is a 100 per cent safe, vegetarian snack made from trusted, high quality everyday kitchen ingredients like rice, dal, corn, gram and roasted spices", PepsiCo said in a statement to MediaNama. "It's an extremely loved brand and consumed by families across India. However, rumours 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 rumours and to enjoy their pack of Kurkure".
PepsiCo may not like seeing people set its snacks aflame, but it's wild to see the company go to such great lengths to wipe any denigrating posts from the internet — namely, ones that are discernibly satirical or pretty innocuous. It's a perpetual chore to police the internet for each and every slight derision, but PepsiCo's case suggests the company is up to the task and apparently so is India.
We have reached out to PepsiCo for comment on the MediaNama report and will update with a response.