One of the consequences of spreading fake news about a food company: they’ll come after you and sue you.
Chobani is doing just that to right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, whose website Infowars has repeatedly published inaccurate articles linking the Greek yogurt company to child rape and an outbreak of tuberculosis near its massive Idaho plant. Now, the Washington Post reports that Chobani is suing Jones for defaming and harming the company and those associated with it living nearby the facility.
Chobani and its CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, specifically highlighted an erroneous tweet linking the company to the sexual assault of a five-year-old by two minors (the only connection to Chobani being that the crime occurred in the same city the Chobani factory is located in) and an uncited claim that Chobani’s increased the tuberculosis incidences in the city by 500%.
Alex Jones, also known for promoting the infamous “Pizzagate” controversy, has utilized Chobani’s practice of hiring refugees as the basis for his claims, utilizing a noble gesture by a food manufacturer as a way to generate fake news. His stories have not been taken down on either his YouTube channel or the Infowars website, continuing to spread exaggerated fabrications that have triggered a call by some to boycott Chobani products.
Jones has defended himself by targeting billionaire George Soros and outlandishly connecting Soros to the lawsuit when no evidence is available to suggest otherwise, and claimed the case had no credibility while vowing to not back down.
AOL reports that Chobani is seeking at least $10,000 in damages for the fake news Jones and Infowars have been spreading.
It’s not that much reward for such a high-profile lawsuit, but the message Chobani sends with it is clear: don’t spread tall tales about them. If you do, you’re gonna pay for it.
UPDATE: Per the Los Angeles Times, Chobani has settled with Alex Jones over the whole matter. Any tweets, videos, and statements Jones and Infowars have made defaming Chobani over these fake news matters have been retracted. Jones also issued the following statement:
“During the week of April 10, 2017, certain statements were made on the Infowars, Twitter feed and YouTube channel regarding Chobani LLC that I now understand to be wrong. The tweets and video have now been retracted, and will not be re-posted. On behalf of Infowars, I regret that we mischaracterized Chobani, its employees and the people of Twin Falls, Idaho, the way we did.”
It is unknown if Chobani also received monetary compensation as part of the settlement, with Chobani only telling the LA Times that “the matter has been resolved.”