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Fake story triggers Pepsi boycott threat

Posted at 12:20 PM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 12:20:41-05

Donald Trump supporters are angry with Pepsi — over something that never happened.

The President-elect’s supporters are threatening to boycott Pepsi over fabricated statements circulating on social media. Twitter users, many citing debunked news articles, claim PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi told Trump fans to “take their business elsewhere.”

Sites designed to trick people, including Truthfeed and Gateway Pundit, published the fake quote while encouraging readers to stop buying Pepsi’s products. Gateway Pundit also incorrectly claimed PepsiCo’s stock plunged 5% because of the comment that Nooyi never actually made.

Nooyi never told Trump’s supporters that Pepsi doesn’t want their business and she even congratulated the president-elect on his victory. But she condemned the ugly rhetoric of the campaign.

“How dare we talk about women that way,” Nooyi actually said at the New York Times Dealbook conference in response to a question referencing the election and domestic violence in the NFL. She also discussed the impact of the election on her employees.

“I had to answer a lot of questions, from my daughters, from my employees, they were all in mourning,” Nooyi said. She called for unity.

“The election is over. I think we should mourn, for those of us who supported the other side. But we have to come together and life has to go on,” she said.

PepsiCo would not comment on the threatened boycott, except to say that Nooyi was referring to “a group of employees she spoke to who were apprehensive about the outcome of the election.”

Pepsi isn’t the first brand to get hit by fake news. On Saturday, a white supremacist site published an article praising New Balance as the “official brand of the Trump Revolution.” As a result, some customers burned their New Balance shoes.

The controversy started when New Balance said “things are going to move in the right direction” with Trump as president. The comment was made in reference to a discussion about the Trans Pacific Partnership, but some social media users interpreted the statement to be pro-Trump.

Fake news has been a major issue during the election, with some critics blaming Facebook for not doing enough to remove false content from its platform. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has defended his site.

“I think the idea that fake news on Facebook — of which it’s a small amount of content — influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” he said at last week’s Techonomy conference.