Why are people boycotting Pizza Hut?

Pizza Hut is facing backlash — and a potential boycott — after some photos shared on the Pizza Hut Israel Instagram account appeared to show the company providing free pizzas to Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers in the country. The post, a now-expired Instagram Story, was screenshot and shared across social media in the following days.

Since then, #BoycottPizzaHut has trended on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, and similar posts have cropped up on Instagram and TikTok. Pizza Hut joins the likes of McDonald’s and Starbucks — both companies faced backlash and boycotts last year for their perceived support of the Israeli government amid the country’s continued strikes in Gaza.

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Nexstar has reached out to Pizza Hut and Yum! Brands, its parent company, for comment. We’ll update when we hear back.

Both McDonald’s and Starbucks later released statements to clarify their companies’ stances, though both acknowledged ramifications of the reported boycotts. Earlier this month, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski wrote on LinkedIn, in part: “Our hearts remain with the communities and families impacted by the war in the Middle East. We abhor violence of any kind and firmly stand against hate speech, and we will always proudly open our doors to everyone.” Kempczinski said “misinformation” about McDonald’s perceived support for slower sales in the Middle East. Additionally, the CEO pointed to local McDonald’s franchise owners in Israel as the ones who are “serving their communities.” Starbucks meanwhile has a dedicated page on the Israel-Gaza conflict, explaining that “despite false statements spread through social media, we have no political agenda.”

Though Starbucks says its profits have never funded any government or military operations, many calls to boycott the company persist online. It’s unclear yet how the perceived support of the Israeli government — whose strikes have killed over 25,000 Palestinians so far, according to Palestinian officials — will have on Pizza Hut.

As of Wednesday evening, X showed several hundred thousand posts containing the boycott hashtag.

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Meanwhile, though Pizza Hut Israel has turned off comments on its Instagram posts, the U.S. account’s photos and videos, which are unrelated to the incident, are inundated with comments featuring the #BoycottPizzaHut or #FreePalestine hashtags.

“We ordered pizza tonight. It WASN’T from you,” reads one top comment on Pizza Hut’s latest post. “Shame on you for supporting genocide,” reads another.

Though not everyone online is in support of the alleged boycott, the Pizza Hut incident illustrates the division among Americans over what the Israel-Gaza war means. Recently published findings by polling outlet YouGov showed older Americans and Republicans were more likely to consider Jewish people in Israel as being victims of genocide, while younger Americans and Democrats were likelier to say Arab people in Gaza are the victims of genocide.

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