Ever since boycotting products became a popular means of protesting in the Gandhi days of divesting from British goods, divestment has become an increasingly effective method to punish the bad guys with the only action that seems to have significant impact in our capitalist society: buying things. Even for the savviest activist, with complete knowledge of the corporate links between criminals and the products that line your grocery store aisles and your clothing store racks, discerning what company receives profit from your purchase is virtually impossible (unless you keep a crazy web of corporations in your burlap sac that you make notes on frantically in public whilst wearing an Occupy pin). Former Microsoft programmer and congressional candidate Darcy Burner, along with freelance programmer Ivan Pardo, has found a modern day solution to a very modern day problem with an app called Buycott.
Buycott, an idea Burner first pitched at the annual progressive political convention called Netroots Nation last year, allows for users to scan the barcode of any product. The app reveals the products ownership, starting from the brand to its parent corporate company and, ultimately, the corporate conglomerate it feeds in to. If you're hellbent on making sure Koch Industries doesn't get a single one of your dollars, Buycott will show you with a single scan that Dixie cups is owned by Georgia-Pacific, a Koch subsidiary, so you can drop kick those Dixie cups before you hit check-out lines and high-five yourself for not giving in to The Man.
One of the most interesting features of the app allows for users to create campaigns to boycott businesses based on certain business practices rather than whole companies. Demand GMO Labeling is a popular user-created campaign that does just that: You can scan your food to see if it was made by a corporation that donated significant funds to oppose mandatory labeling of GMOs. On the flip side, Buycott also creates brand-positive campaigns that encourage users to buy products created by companies that openly support gay rights, for instance.
With Buycott programmers still working on adding new data to its corporate ownership structures and more and more users building campaigns of their own with the app, divestment in the age of hyper-consumerism has become a lot simpler.
Images via Forbes