Forbes reports on the app every activist everyone is talking about – ‘Buycott’ – a simple, free smartphone application that allows people to scan barcodes of items they buy and see which company profits from your dollar:
The app itself is the work of one Los Angeles-based 26-year-old freelance programmer, Ivan Pardo, who has devoted the last 16 months to Buycott. “It’s been completely bootstrapped up to this point,” he said. Martinez and another friend have pitched in to promote the app.
Pardo’s handiwork is available for download on iPhone or Android, making its debut in iTunes and GoogleGOOG +1.09% Play in early May. You can scan the barcode on any product and the free app will trace its ownership all the way to its top corporate parent company, including conglomerates like Koch Industries.
Once you’ve scanned an item, Buycott will show you its corporate family tree on your phone screen. Scan a box of Splenda sweetener, for instance, and you’ll see its parent, McNeil Nutritionals, is a subsidiary of Johnson & JohnsonJNJ +1.3%.
Even more impressively, you can join user-created campaigns to boycott business practices that violate your principles rather than single companies. One of these campaigns, Demand GMO Labeling, will scan your box of cereal and tell you if it was made by one of the 36 corporations that donated more than $150,000 to oppose the mandatory labeling of genetically modified food.
It’s not like the Obama administration is doing much to tackle wealth inequality and corporate abuse of power, so anything that allows individuals to take matters into their own hands is a big step forward. Consumer knowledge is incredibly important if anything is to change at the top, and given companies spend billions of dollars a year in advertising to cover up the truth about their business practices, easily accessible knowledge could be key to leveling the playing field.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.