The company has subsequently clarified that it isn’t targeting the likes of Facebook fans with this policy requirement for arbitration over lawsuits to resolve complaints, saying simply that “arbitration is an efficient way to resolve disputes.” Even so, the language is broad enough that it could apply to any number of online spaces where customers gather to interact with General Mills and its products.
Whether or not “forced arbitration” clauses will actually be enforceable could vary from state to state, and clause to contract, but that hasn’t stopped the spread of concerns from both media and customers. The relationship between brands and fans on social media is coming under closer scrutiny as a result.
Examining the legal side of social media often focuses on the considerations that brands must make before they take the plunge on any particular platform. These channels are relatively new to everyone and naturally involve much more interaction between brand and customer than previous broadcast media, making the relationship all the more complicated, legally and socially.
The General Mills case reminds us that consumers are also faced with terms and conditions at almost every turn of life online.
So don’t take the legal side of social media lightly, whether you’re a company or a customer. As with any sign up decision, big or small, the devil’s in the detail (and the detail is in the fine print!)