NEW DELHI: PepsiCo India has secured an interim order from the Delhi High Court, requiring social media platforms in the country, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to delete thousands of posts and videos that suggest the company’s popular Kurkure corn puff brand contains plastic.

Rumours that Kurkure is combustible because it contains plastic have been circulating on the internet for about a decade, which forced PepsiCo into a damage-limitation exercise that led ultimately to a petition to the High Court.

Back in June, the court issued a “John Doe” order, known as an “Ashok Kumar” order in India, granting PepsiCo’s request to have the offending posts deleted. A second order, issued last week, said the interim order would remain in place until the case is heard again on November 14.

According to Indian news portal MediaNama, this is the first reported instance of a private company being able to get social media platforms “to take down content at this scale in India”.

It is estimated that the number of posts involved – which stretch back years – include 20,244 Facebook posts, 3,412 Facebook links, 242 YouTube videos, six Instagram links and 562 tweets.

This is the latest phase in PepsiCo’s battle to protect the reputation of its Kurkure brand and follows attempts to launch new variants, changes to the product’s packaging and, according to Business Standard, a recent public awareness campaign said to have cost Rs 20m.

Despite concerns in some quarters that PepsiCo’s successful petition could lead to censorship of social media platforms, the company defended its action in a no-nonsense statement.

“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,” part of the full statement read.

“This step has been taken to protect our brand equity, a matter that we take very seriously at PepsiCo. We are working constantly with all the platforms, to collectively counter the issue of spread of defamatory and damaging content, following all procedural obligations to ensure compliance with the court order.”

Sourced from MediaNama, Business Standard; additional content by WARC staff