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KFC ad misinterpreted online, stirring false Israel-Hamas claims

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Social media users are claiming a KFC social media promotion mocked Palestinians displaced by the Israel-Hamas war. This is false; the US fast-food chain said its since-deleted posts, which used the hashtag “NoTentsJustChicken,” referenced online chatter about a government agency’s missing tent in Antigua and Barbuda, a Caribbean nation — not the conflict in Gaza.

“DISGUSTING AD MOCKING GAZA By KFC,” says a February 18, 2024 Instagram post. “KFC is literally mocking displaced Palestinians in Rafah whilst they are suffering FAMINE!”

The post shares a screenshot of a KFC Facebook post that says: “Sorry, no tents here, just finger-lickin’ good chicken, just the way you like it to spice up your weekend. #NoTentsJustChicken #KFCAntigua.”

<span>Screenshot from Instagram taken February 20, 2024</span>

Screenshot from Instagram taken February 20, 2024

Similar accusations pinballed across Instagram and platforms including Facebook and X, formerly Twitter, where they were amplified by Britain-based creator Sulaiman Ahmed and Danish physician Anastasia Maria Loupis — both of whom have monetized misinformation about the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Some 1.4 million Palestinians are living in crowded shelters and tented camps in the far-southern city of Rafah, where the battle is nearing.

The recent KFC campaign was not a taunt aimed at Gazans displaced by the violence, the company told AFP.

“This post was shared by the KFC Antigua social channels with the intention of joining the trending conversation in Antigua related to a tent that was reported missing by the Antigua Public Utilities Authority,” a spokesperson said in a February 20, 2024 email.

“This post is in no way related to the conflict in the Middle East and was removed when we realized it was being misinterpreted. We apologize for any confusion that was caused.”

On February 15, the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), posted on Facebook that one of its tents used for training sessions had gone “missing” and was “allegedly stolen” (archived here).

The plea for public support sparked online conversation, with some companies getting in on the action, apparently in jest.

“Need to ‘throw some shade’? Think we have them in white and we’re throwing in a can of spray paint. Use your creativity. #letsmakeadeal,” North Coast Hardware, a store in Antigua, said in one such post advertising its tents (archived here).

Links to KFC’s post alluding to the missing APUA tent show up in Google search results, revealing the company shared it to both its Facebook page and KFC Antigua’s Instagram channel (archived here).

In a follow-up post on February 18, APUA shared a photo of the tent.

“Now that you’re gone, we are getting lots of shade but not quite like what you used to pitch,” the agency wrote (archived here).

KFC commented under the post: “We think this one is more for North Coast Hardware and not us” (archived here).

AFP has debunked other misinformation related to the Israel-Hamas war here.

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