A phone app allowing users to identify products used by questionable companies like Koch Industries and Monsanto has generated enough demand to cause problems for the developer, Forbes reported on Tuesday.
“The workload is a bit overwhelming now,” said 26-year-old Ivan Pardo, the developer behind Buycott. “Our Android app was just recently released and the surge of new users today has highlighted a serious bug on certain devices that needs to be fixed immediately. So all other development tasks I was working on get put on hold until I can get this bug fixed.”
Pardo, who has been designing the app over the past 16 months, said there is no partisanship behind Buycott, which provides users with the ownership background of products by scanning their barcode.
The app also allows users to take part in online campaigns that boycott or, alternatively, highlight companies that support their political viewpoints. Buycott is also asking users to help keep its database updated by sharing products not yet recognized by the app.
“It was critical to allow users to create campaigns,” Pardo said. “I don’t think its Buycott’s role to tell people what to buy. We simply want to provide a platform that empowers consumers to make well-informed purchasing decisions.”
The idea of an app giving consumers a chance to better align their shopping habits with their ethics gained attention when it was proposed during the Netroots Nation conference in June 2012 by Darcy Bruner, a Democratic congressional candidate in Washington state and former programmer for Microsoft.
“The Kochs have a record of spending enormous amounts of money to move very reactionary, right-wing policies,” she said at the time. “Most Americans disagree with those policies but they may be buying products that are bankrolling them.”
Bruner created a mock interface for her proposal, but was not able to proceed any further. But Pardo was already independently working on his own version.
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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