Chuck E. Cheese, Defamation, and Social Media Attacks

Is every Chuck E. Cheese pizza made fresh? Or are they cobbled together from recycled slices of old, uneaten pies? This rumor has swirled around the famous mouse for years, but it’s broken out of the weird Chuck E. Cheese fandom sites into the mainstream with a video by YouTuber Shane Dawson.

Showing us a pie that doesn’t seem to have slices line up accurately, he alleges that leftover pizza gets re-served in a “new” pie to the next customer, emphasizing that this is just a theory. To Shane, this may have been a funny musing. To Chuck E. Cheese, however, this is serious.

Chuck E. Cheese may not even have been aware of Shane Dawson’s existence before he posted this video. I bet they are now. While they shut down the claims, calling them unequivocally false”, much damage has already been done. Social media makes it extremely easy for a joke, a complaint, or a downright malicious attack to spread far and wide, quickly and easily. This video, for example, has already had over 10 million views.

This is no joke for a business. Chances are, people are having second thoughts about grabbing a pie at Chuck E. Cheese this week. Negative stories, especially unfounded rumors, can have a drastic effect on a company’s bottom line.

From a bad Yelp review to the Great Comet Pizzagate Conspiracy to a tempestuous tweet, social media can spread information quickly – whether it’s true or false.

Chances are, Chuck E. Cheese reached first for their lawyer, to determine the best plan of action. While they probably have a case to make to demand the video be removed, there is also the assessment of your brand.

Strong-arm tactics aren’t always the best approach. Do you want to be the heavy who comes out swinging on a lowly YouTuber? Or can you just laugh it off, the way they laughed in the video?

Handling online defamation is a challenge for organizations, and one that requires a deft touch. C4CM’s course, Social Media Risks & Defamation Lawsuits: Counsel’s Guide to Preventing & Responding to Online Reputational Attacks, can help you protect your organization from these attacks. Learn more here.

Navigating the new landscape of social media can be difficult for organizations, where a negative review or single falsehood can have effects felt far into the future. You need to be prepared to handle these situations when, not if, they occur for your business.

(And because I’ve spent too much time thinking about the pizza situation at Chuck E. Cheese, I think the pie in question looks like some slices were re-arranged to give the appearance of them not lining up. Your thoughts?)

Tina Nacrelli

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