Fake news is again causing problems for the foodservice industry, this time inolving McDonald's and Chipotle. The event also involved reporters at USA Today and the financial news site, Benzinga.com, both of whom received a fraudulent news releases attempting to evoke coverage by those publications.
Reporters received a fabricated press release on Valentine's Day disclosing details — ultimately determined to be fraudulent — regarding an unsolicited bid by McDonald's to acquire Chipotle.
Both sites' reporters checked out the ill-intended fake news release bait with public relations chiefs at McDonald's and Chipotle, who both denied the information in the release. McDonald's spokesperson Terri Hickey responded via email to USA Today, writing "It is not our press release and there is no truth to its claim."
Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told Benzinga that leaders there had "no knowledge of any intention by McDonald's to acquire shares."
The reporters involved said that the fake news release was convincingly formatted as a corporate merger announcement and was accompanied by a fake Securities and Exchange Commission filing, imitating the format of an announcement from news release wire service, Marketwired, which also told Benzinga, it "did not come from us."
Since the news was not disseminated as accurate, but only later reported in stories by each publication about the existence of another fake news attempt, it's not clear if there was any effect on market prices for the two companies involved. Yesterday, McDonald's stock value increased 0.2 percent to $125.81, while Chipotle's value grew 1.3 percent to $419.54.