Fake news and hoaxes have spread more slowly on Facebook since the social network cracked down on sites that primarily traffic in spreading misinformation under the rubric of offering “satire,” and such is the case with the fake sign shown above, which supposedly informs McDonald’s customers that the chain uses “french fry grease” in their coffee to “speed up the heating process.”
This version of a McDonald’s sign hoax was published to a shell “viral news” site (“These Signs Are Popping Up at McDonald’s After FDA Cracks Down on Coffee “Additive”) on 18 June 2015, and within a few days it had been republished by fake news sites such as the Racket Report (“FDA Reveals McDonald’s Uses Left Over ‘French Fry’ Grease to Increase Coffee’s Heat”), Daily Buzz Live (“These Signs Are Popping Up at McDonald’s After FDA Cracks Down on Coffee ‘Additive'”), and NotAllowedTo.com (“McDonald’s Exposed for Using Left Over ‘French Fry’ Grease in Its ‘Coffee'”).
As is common for such hoaxes, it didn’t take long for the “sign” to begin spreading via social media warnings:
For all my Moslem friends who eat at McDonald's beware – did you know the fat that is used to fry the chips/fries… http://t.co/LWeSpQ2Hnf
— Roz Bishop (@rozbishop) June 28, 2015
McDonald’s Exposed For Using Left Over "French Fry" Grease in its "Coffee" http://t.co/e9wLkP8CCI
— Stefano Casati (@SteveCasati) June 28, 2015
Apparently McDonald's puts French fry grease in their coffee. In other news people willingly drink McDonald's coffee.
— Rebecca (@rebeccaseagull) June 21, 2015
Now only was this sign a digital forgery that was rehashed and regurgitated by a bevy of fake news sites in June 2015, it was also just a recycled version a similar hoax dating back to at least 2011. In the earlier version, the fabricated sign claimed that McDonald’s was imposing a surcharge on black customers to offset robbery losses:
One obvious hoax giveaway is that the toll-free contact number displayed on these signs (800-225-5532) is actually for KFC, not McDonald’s.