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Cheerios backtracks: It’s OK to “like” without losing your rights

You can "like" Cheerios and still retain your legal right to sue the company that makes the breakfast cereal.

Following an online blitz of criticism, food giant General Mills has reversed course and scrapped a controversial plan to strip consumers of their right to sue.

The company, whose other brands include Progresso and Yoplait, had posted a notice on its website about a change to its legal terms — visitors using its websites or engaging with it online in a variety of other ways meant they would have to give up their right to sue. Instead, the new terms said, people would need to have disputes resolved through informal negotiation or arbitration.

It's OK to "like" a product without losing your right to sue. Cheerios maker reversed itself after an online blitz of criticism.
It's OK to "like" a product without losing your right to sue. Cheerios maker reversed itself after an online blitz of criticism. David Duprey / AP

The Minnesota-based company's decision was widely denounced on social media after a New York Times story last week under the headline: "When 'Liking' A Brand Online Voids the Right to Sue." The next day, General Mills clarified the new terms to say they did not apply when people engaged with its brands on Facebook and Twitter. "No one is precluded from suing us merely by purchasing our products at the store or liking one of our brand Facebook pages," the company said.

The terms would apply in instances such as when people subscribed to one of its publications or downloaded its coupons from its websites, General Mills said. Despite the clarification, the company apparently continued to feel pressure and issued another statement late Saturday saying it decided to dump the new legal terms.

"We are announcing today that we have reverted back to our prior legal terms, which contain no mention of arbitration," the email said.

- The Associated Press