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After Facebook Flap, General Mills Backs Down From Forced Arbitration Policy

Go ahead and "like" us -- you can still sue us if you want, says the company behind Cheerios.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

It’s okay to like Cheerios on Facebook, or to download a coupon for Haagen-Dazs — you can still sue the company that makes them.

That’s the message from food giant General Mills, which has backtracked on a policy that seemed to require customers to agree to arbitration if they interacted with the company and its brands in any way, including online.

In a blog post published late Saturday night, the company announced that it was reverting to its old set of legal terms, because its new ones had been “widely misread.”

That’s a reference to last week’s New York Times story, which argued that General Mills had introduced terms that required customers to “give up their right to sue the company if they download coupons, ‘join’ it in online communities like Facebook, enter a company-sponsored sweepstakes or contest or interact with it in a variety of other ways.”

That’s not the case, insists Kirstie Foster, the General Mills PR rep credited with writing the company’s post: “At no time was anyone ever precluded from suing us by purchasing one of our products at a store or liking one of our Facebook pages. That was either a mischaracterization — or just very misunderstood.”

Still, Foster writes: “We would also like to apologize. We’re sorry we even started down this path. And we do hope you’ll accept our apology.”

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