Buycott Inc. introduced a new Smartphone application that users can tap to alter their spending on products to reflect their principles. When Buycott users scan a product, the app will check its database to determine the brand-group, company and ownership related to the product. Users can define their own consumer-spending preferences in the form of a “campaign” to target specific companies with a boycott, targeting companies with opposing positions, or with a buycott , to support companies with favorable positions.
Forbes’ Clare O’Connor highlighted the app’s relevance to today’s socially conscious generation of app users with examples of how the app can be used. Specifically it can be used to boycott industry groups and firms such as the Koch Brothers and Monsanto.
Buycott traces back to progressive activist Darcy Burner positing the notion of such an app at the 2012 Netroots Nation gathering. It was the eighth such annual gathering of progressive bloggers, newsmakers, social justice advocates, labor and organizational leaders, grassroots organizers and online activists. They came together to network, hone their organizing skills and share their know-how with others sharing similar commitments on public affairs issues.
“Burner pitched a seemingly simple idea to the thousands of bloggers and web developers in the audience,” recalls O’Connor. “The former Microsoft programmer and congressional candidate proposed a Smartphone app allowing shoppers to swipe barcodes to check whether conservative billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch were behind a product on the shelves.”
Widespread reporting of the app’s availability and fast-growing popularity has highlighted Monsanto, Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A as target companies for its use – as well as companies and brands owned by the Koch brothers.
Campaigns against genetically modified foods, including against Monsanto specifically, are the most popular being executed on Buycott’s app at this time. Leading campaign themes also include anti sweatshop and child labor issues, GLBT equality, and local and sustainable food initiatives.
Buycott current offers its app through the iTunes App Store, and expects to offer an Android app in the ner future. Early customer reviews are mixed, citing technical issues, errors and slow response times.
Data accuracy may be a feature in progress in relying on the app. Buycott, Inc. acknowledges, “Corporate ownership structure is always changing and can sometimes be complex. Most companies in our database actually own more brands than we have on record for them. That’s why we need your help maintaining and improving the integrity of the data. New users can add unknown products they scan, and also contribute contact and background information for existing companies or vote on the accuracy of information that’s already been added. The most active users have the ability contribute more types of data to the database.”