Chris Morran is a blogger for The Consumerist. Morran frequently writes attacks on arbitration that grossly misrepresent the facts. This page will clarify the truth about arbitration.
Morran frequently intones that the business selects the individual arbitrator. Not so. Under the default AAA Consumer Arbitration Rules, the arbitrator is selected by the AAA (not by the business) with challenges only for cause, and in JAMS, both parties receive a list of arbitrators from which they can strike names.
Attorney general actions
Morran wrote that, if a user agrees to Instagram's arbitration clause, "if your state’s Attorney General takes Instagram to court over any sort of violation that could result in settlements with a class of users, you’re out of luck." This is false. An individual arbitration clause is not binding on a government nonparty (like a state Attorney General) and cannot prevent that nonparty from obtaining individual classwide relief. See EEOC v. Waffle House, Inc., 534 U.S. 279, 294 (2002), Rent-a-Center, Inc. v. Iowa Civil Rights Com'n, 843 N.W. 727, 728 (Iowa 2014), Joulé, Inc. v. Simmons, 459 Mass. 88, 95 (2011).
Morran argues that consumers should always opt out of arbitration because you "[c]an still agree to arbitrate, if you would prefer that option." This is bad legal advice. In the absence of a predispute arbitration agreement, a consumer cannot choose to arbitrate a claim against a business without the business's consent.