‘Missing tent’ memes: How a light-hearted post got KFC Antigua falsely accused of referencing Gaza

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What was meant to be a light-hearted joke amongst Antiguans and Barbudans about the local public utilities company’s missing tent has been used to create a false controversy online regarding Palestine and the war in Gaza.

Last Thursday, Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) sought the public’s assistance in locating its branded tent which was last seen at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.

And while its current location remains unknown, much to the dismay of APUA officials, social media was set ablaze with memes regarding the situation.

Many local companies, including the local KFC franchise, got in on the act to use the missing tent as a marketing strategy.

KFC, in its post, wrote: ‘Sorry, no tents here, just finger-licking good chicken, just the way you like it to spice up your weekend. #NoTentsJustChicken and #KFCAntigua.’

However, one Twitter user—who goes by the name @Kahlissee—didn’t get the joke and used KFC Antigua’s post to create a non-existent controversy.

The self-described ‘pro-humanitarian activist’ from England posted on Sunday “DISGUSTING AD MOCKING GAZA BY @KFC. KFC is literally mocking displaced Palestinians in Rafah whilst they are suffering FAMINE! ‘Sorry, no tents here, just finger-lickin good chicken!’”

This prompted many Antiguan and Barbudans to try to inform the user about the context of the social media post by KFC, including a Twitter Community Note, highlighting the situation in the twin island nation.

As of writing, the post has remained on Twitter (now known as X) with no corrections and has been seen over 1.7 million times.

Meanwhile, in response to our questions, Information Minister Melford Nicholas told Observer that @Kahlissee’s post was a clear sign of misinformation and rage-baiting.

“I think that that person is wilful; they are knowledgeable of the fact that the name KFC will give their comments [prominence] because, within the world of social media, a search like that—and to inadvertently draw KFC ostensibly into a controversy—will cause other persons to pick up.

“One of the reasons why I believe they would have not removed it is that they’re not satisfied yet that they have been able to propagate their agenda as far as they would want to,” Minister Nicholas stated.

Observer media also spoke to local social media influencer Colin John Jenkins, who shared how a simple tweet or post can be taken widely out of context.

“Whenever anybody looks at the post and may not have the ability or the desire to ask a question, similarly to how news outlets would deliberately put certain headlines that we consider to be clickbait … the posts are designed to attract attention and, because the fact that negativity drives a lot of the attention over positivity, then you can have a situation where the person just simply looks for traction and notoriety,” he noted.

“There are some users who intentionally would share things that are incendiary or even sometimes manipulate the truth, just so that they can get the traction because, some platforms, depending on where you’re located, would pay you for the number of visitors to your site or your page,” Jenkins added.

KFC Antigua has since removed the post from its social media accounts and its management team is reportedly discussing the issue internally.

Jenkins noted that companies have to be more careful about what they post and share — more than individuals do — due to the potential for reputational harm.

“Sometimes you would, especially in the marketing team, put things out there that you think would be catchy, clever, or witty because that tends to sell a lot, but other persons may not see it that way and it happens a lot to some of the smallest companies and to the largest.

“It has happened to Gucci, H&M, Dove; it happens and so there is a need for reflection before you put things out there and it is always a good thing to have other eyes on it,” he said.

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