- General Mills has added language to its Website telling consumers that certain actions -- hitting a "like" button on Facebook, downloading a coupon, "following" a brand on social media -- entail the surrender of legal rights to sue the company in the future.
- The unusual argument, which the company reiterated in an interview with the New York Times, claims that such actions constitute an agreement to submit to arbitration, rather than the courts, should a consumer have a dispute with the company.
- The move comes as companies look for ways to avoid the costs of legal actions by requiring consumers to pursue claims in other forums -- a process called "forced arbitration."
America has become a wildly litigious society, something that may not be good for the country. But perhaps the only thing worse for America's legal problems is an attempt to solve them by limiting legal recourse.
Predictably and comically, General Mills' legal argument has unleashed a firestorm in the social-media world. The lesson here may be that it's always wise to talk to the public-relations, marketing, and social-media teams before letting the lawyers decide a social-media policy.