General Mills Changes Policy After Internet Did Not 'Like' Its Plan To Remove Your Ability To Sue If You 'Liked' Its Facebook Page

from the just-trying-to-help dept

Following reports from last week about how cereal company General Mills had changed its privacy policy to preclude people from going to court if they so much as “liked” Cheerios on Twitter, the company has backtracked, changed its policy and admitted that consumers “didn’t like” the new policy, though they insist it was all a misunderstanding:

As has been widely reported, General Mills recently posted a revised set of Legal Terms on our websites. Those terms – and our intentions – were widely misread, causing concern among consumers.

So we’ve listened – and we’re changing them back to what they were before.

We rarely have disputes with consumers – and arbitration would have simply streamlined how complaints are handled. Many companies do the same, and we felt it would be helpful.

But consumers didn’t like it.

After throwing in some legalese (and admitting their lawyers made them do that), General Mills’ director of external communications Kirstie Foster explained:

We’ll just add that we never imagined this reaction. Similar terms are common in all sorts of consumer contracts, and arbitration clauses don’t cause anyone to waive a valid legal claim. They only specify a cost-effective means of resolving such matters. 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.

Not that any of that matters now.

On behalf of our company and our brands, we would also like to apologize. We’re sorry we even started down this path. And we do hope you’ll accept our apology. We also hope that you’ll continue to download product coupons, talk to us on social media, or look for recipes on our websites.

That first paragraph is not entirely accurate. While similar claims do exist in all sorts of consumer contracts (and, contrary to the statement, they often do cause people to effectively waive valid legal claims), they tend to exist in actual contracts. That is, not in a website privacy policy or terms of use — which is what made General Mills’ effort so notable.

Again, there is a simple solution to all of this. It should be clear that simply throwing up a “terms of use” page has no direct legal impact, especially if there’s no evidence that anyone has actually read it.

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Companies: general mills

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Comments on “General Mills Changes Policy After Internet Did Not 'Like' Its Plan To Remove Your Ability To Sue If You 'Liked' Its Facebook Page”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“That was either a mischaracterization ? or just very misunderstood.”

Or everyone at General Mills was to fscking stupid to understand how these words would read outside the fishbowl.
Perhaps it might be best to fire the lawyers who suggested such a stupid idea and managed to undo much of the goodwill your corporation had managed to gain.

Perhaps rather than trying to execute legal agreements to show us your intentions, perhaps being straightforward about those intentions would have been for the best. I doubt we misread your terms, I think you’re just trying to salvage flushing a large amount of goodwill to make some lawyer happy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not sure exactly what the EULA/TOS or whatever was attempting to protect against, small claims about actual product vs advertised product? However, I doubt that any words on paper, agreed to or not, could remove corporate liability for things like gross negligence resulting in adverse health issues or other such things.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I mean its not like we have to ask nicely to get products that kill people recalled.
We don’t have to worry that corporations who pollute might declare bankruptcy to avoid having to clean up spills.
We don’t have to worry that unknown chemicals are being pumped into the ground and then dumped, because some words on paper call them trade secrets.

Er… wait…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You are correct but not entirely the point.

This is another case of Big Corp trying to slippery slope everyone into a huge ‘give up our rights’ campaign that has been running for several decades now.

Does your government care to protect you? Nope… not even the Liberals whom spin their excessive tripe won’t even bother to protect their ever so precious minorities here either.

Left or Right… they want you to become a slave. You can already have your home invaded, arrested and strip searched and enema’d, shot dead, or beat dead by a cop if they ‘think’ you are up to no good. Hear much outcry by our precious leaders about it?

Anonymous Coward says:

“… not even the Liberals… won’t even bother to protect their ever so precious minorities here either…”

“Minorities”, code for people-darker-than-me, must apparently all be “liberals”. Marco Rubio? Impostor. Colin Powell, Herman Cain, Condoleezza Rice, Clarence Thomas? Closeted libs, and, therefore, dirty liars.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well, that depends… According to the left if you are a minority you MUST be a liberal/democrat or your an Uncle Tom or a stupid shrill for the repukes.

That’s why I said “their minorities”

I don’t care if you are a minority a majority, or left or right. If your eyes are glazed over in support of your favored party as they wreck this nation, you are not worthy of freedom.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Wait? Saying a label is promoting it? Don’t get ahead of yourself, you are just trying to bring an argument into the weeds where you can weight it down with meaningless drivel. Try to be more intelligent, those trying to avoid labels the most are the ones usually guilty of their application. I try to avoid getting my feelings hurt when people sling names because I follow the logic that if you feel offended by something whether intended to offend you or not then you deserve the offense and are therefore an idiot to boot.

The left, is generally a term used to describe people that are generally NOT moderate or generally NOT conservative. Typically a Democrat but not always, and possibly a Republican as well.

People who tend to be more socialist than not. Everyone shares a socialist value or two myself included.

I generally accept that the right (oops!) are typically so pro-business/free market that it negatively impacts this nation. And the point of my original argument is the the Left (Those in power that think more commonly on a socialistic level) seem to vote in people that “SAY” they are against this, while actually supporting it and bathing in the same corruption that the right does!

No one (in gov left or right) are protecting people/organizations from putting in legal jargon limiting provisions people can use to attempt legal remedy when someone borks up. that was my point, the reason I picked on the left more that they are more responsible from a societal point of view because they talk against it so much while actually making it worse (most lawyers are left). I might be wrong, I might be right… but I believe I am right. There you can take me to task if you are so inclined.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“you are just trying to bring an argument into the weeds where you can weight it down with meaningless drivel.”

Your mind-reading has failed you. I am trying to keep the argument out of the weeds of the left/right paradigm, because it’s impossible to have an honest discussion of any topic whatsoever when it’s cloaked in those terms.

“Try to be more intelligent”

OK, you got me. I was being an idiot by thinking that I could have an interesting conversation with you when it turns out you just want to sling insults around. Sorry about that.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Except that we haven’t really got one as such. Dems? Don’t kid yourselves. Greens? Sometimes, some of them. There aren’t many of them in office so they don’t have that much influence.

What we’ve got is the ILLUSION of a left-liberal/right dichotomy presented by the lamestream media. They use this to pretend we have a choice.

Meanwhile, on the Far Right, some people have convinced themselves that anyone who disagrees with them is a terrorist while others declare that membership of the other team automatically means they can’t agree with them on anything.

Neither of these assertions are true. There are Dems who love guns as much as Republicans do, would you believe? And liberals aren’t known for committing terrorist acts.

The Progressives are actually a subgroup of the Democratic Party and don’t have much power at the moment. The ruling group is actually center right, and has been since Clinton. That’s why there’s not much of a difference between the two parties. Mind you, when there was, they were unelectable.

The point is, we have a center-right government that has been identified as liberal-left because they’re not the Republican Party.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Fuck it, how about this.

Being in the same existential plane, universe or set of universes is an infringement upon space that may or may not be personally relevant, and necessitates that you pay a fine of $100 for every second you commit this clearly gross act of infringement; this clause cannot be broken or challenged. (I mean, duh, any fool could understand this, so we don’t have to ask a judge.)

Anon says:

Why bother

Why even like a business like that or any business for that matter? They don’t like or care about us. I mean I like certain companies but not enough to follow any company. TO them it’s a cheap form of advertisement. If you like a certain companie , the only true way to support them is to continue buying their product. Nothing more nothing less. No need to sell your soul to those greedy shysters.

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