"Like" This Page and Give Up Your Right to Sue?

General Mills is the latest company to try to restrict customers' right to legal action based on their interaction with the company on social media. The company's new legal terms define these conditions broadly, including being "a subscriber to any of our emails, or a participant in any sweepstakes, contest..."

General Mills Legal

According to The New York Times, "anyone who has received anything that could be construed as a benefit and who then has a dispute with the company over its products will have to use informal negotiation via email or go through arbitration to seek relief, according to the new terms posted on its site."

Although the move may be understandable considering the increasing number of class-action lawsuits, the director of a trial attorneys' organization explains the potential consequence: '"It's essentially trying to protect the company from all accountability, even when it lies, or say, an employee deliberately adds broken glass to a product."

Could merely visiting General Mills' website prevent a lawsuit? One attorney say it's unclear, but "You can bet there will be some subpoenas for computer hard drives in the future."

This story reminds me of KlearGear, the company that charged a customer $3,500 for a bad review.  

UPDATE: General Mills reverses its decision and apologizes.

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of the ethics of General Mills' new legal restriction? 
  • How do you see the new restriction playing out? Consider one or two situations where this restriction might apply.
  • Does this story affect how you might approach social media contact with General Mills in the future?