Mumbai: In a temporary relief to PepsiCo India, the Delhi high court has directed social media network Facebook and Google-owned video sharing website YouTube to block URLs and weblinks of videos that are putting the Indian arm of the food and beverage major’s product Lay’s in a bad light, until the next hearing.
The maker of Pepsi soft drink, as well as Quaker Oats and Tropicana juice, had approached the court to stop video clippings that put its Lay’s brand in a bad light. The court will hear the matter next on 2 May.
“The grievance of the plaintiff (PepsiCo) is that on February 5 and February 8, it came across as a video posted at a Facebook and YouTube website wherein, the makers of the video an anonymous person has claimed that the potato chips under the brand ‘Lay’s’ is harmful for the consumption as it contains the plastic," said the order passed last week. “It is pointed out that as per the video the consumption of ‘Lay’s’ chips would result in the death of the consumer."
The court order further observes that the food and beverage maker argued that the content of the video is baseless and reckless, and without any regard for truth or due care for verification. The company also cited the licence issued by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to further argue that the content of the videos are entirely baseless and mischievous.
“The plaintiff has made out a prima facie case," said justice Jayant Nath in his two-page interim order and ordered that till the next date of hearing, the defendants (Facebook and YouTube) will take steps to block the URLs and weblinks or any other similar videos which are mentioned by PepsiCo India.
When contacted, Dheeraj Nair, partner at law firm J Sagar Associates, who is representing PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd along with senior counsel Rajiv Nayar, confirmed the development but refused to divulge any details since the matter is sub-judice. Email queries to PepsiCo India, Facebook and YouTube remained unanswered till the filing of the report.
According to Tina Jain Mehta, co-founder of boutique branding and design firm Pineapple Consulting, “In today’s digital world, fake news has become an industry in itself. It’s difficult to ascertain the origin of such stories which can be politically motivated or competition at its worse. So indeed it is important for brands to be vigil and protect their long-term equity."