Increasingly, the culture war between progressives and conservatives (not to mention all the factions in between) is being fought at the wallet and in the checkbook. In our capitalist society, the theory goes, having any noticeable effect on the world means cutting off the money stream to organizations doing stuff you find morally reprehensible. In the case of shopping for your everyday essentials, this means figuring out the money trail behind all those brands you see in the store.
But tracking money is the whole problem. How do you take an innocuous brand and trace the spiderweb of corporate ownership up until you reach the source? Traditionally, it involves lots of research most people don’t want to bother with. And quite impossible when you are standing in the isle at the supermarket, eyeballing two almost-identical cans of peas, trying to remember which corporate owner went on record supporting deadly sweatshop fires regarding some distantly connected clothing supplier.
Rise of the Boycott App
That is all changing with a new generation of smartphone apps. Rather than keep your ear to the rail outside the current Social Media rage storm, you just install the app and let the Internet do all the hard work for you. You can get some of these apps for free by using free Google Play Redeem Codes Generator from here.
Back in 2012, Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner made the original pitch at a NetRoots conference. She called for the development of a smartphone app able to judge a product from its bar code and lay out the otherwise obfuscated political message contained inside.
Today, probably the most famous version of this idea is Buycott. Buycott can scan the barcode of most products available in any store you go into: food, clothing, electronics and more. And with just a bar code, Buycott expands out a product’s entire corporate tree. Not just the company that makes the product, but their owner, and their owner and up until you reach the top of the corporate umbrella. Gone are the requirements of taking notes, going home and spending a night on your computer before making a decision.
Boycott apps typically uses crowdsourced campaign information. Anyone can create a new campaign at any time (currently the list at Buycott has over 18 pages of them) and the campaign can be either an exclusive (don’t buy this product) or an inclusive (yes buy this product!) one. This allows the consumer to not only reject a product that doesn’t support their values, but it also allows the consumer to accept particular products whose global leaders have contributed campaign money towards a goal they agree with.
Hiding the Money
The entire system of corporate campaign finance donations is in part so successful because the huge conglomerates making those contributions are so well separated from the subsidiaries that do all the actual work. This murkiness allows a company to support pet views of their board of directors without having to answer for them in the global marketplace.
But now if enough people are watching carefully, the truth is going to be known. Donations in conflict with customer expectations will have the same reception as a donation contrary to shareholder expectations…immediate backlash.
The Future of Boycotting
How will this spotlight on corporate political actions affect the world tomorrow? Even with all the information at your fingertips, the typical grocery store or big box department store is not going to offer a lot of options besides the few same old multinational brand holders. Depending on the campaign you are supporting it’s difficult to find ANY choice other than between evil corporation A or evil corporation B.
But with enough user adoption, and users reaching a threshold of action based on the supplied information, boycott apps could indeed be an incredibly trans-formative piece of tech. The power of the people made manifest, for good or for bad. Only time will tell.