App of the Week: Buycott

Buycott Inc.

App Name: Buycott

Price: Free

Available Platforms: iOS

What does this app do? Chances are you like to know what's in the food you eat and where the money you pay to buy that food goes. For instance, those tomatoes from the grocery store may come from a manufacturer that supports genetically modified foods, and you may not want any part of that.

Ivan Pardo, a 26-year-old Los Angeles-based developer, created Buycott, an app that helps consumers manage where their money goes by allowing them to scan products, learn about what brands and companies own those products, and determine if those companies align with the causes a user wishes to support or boycott.

When it comes to using the app, think of it as a two-part process. Once you download it, you can search for and join available campaigns - "Boycott companies that sell FUR" or "Support Veterans," for example - or create your own. From there, the app can analyze the UPC barcode and discern the product's brand and parent company.

What makes Buycott special, according to Pardo, is the app will then cross-check that information to see if those brands or companies conflict with causes a user selects.

At the moment, the app has over 100 campaigns and the list is growing. Pardo encourages people to create campaigns if there is a cause they want to see on the app. He does caution that people should read the "Terms of Service" on the website: "Campaigns that attempt to infringe upon the rights of others based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation are not tolerated."

Is it easy to install?: Yes, sign up with your Facebook or email account and start scanning. This past Tuesday, the app experienced over 200,000 downloads, according to Pardo. As a result, users may notice some slow responsiveness. However, Pardo assured us he was working hard to amend any performance issues as he migrated the app to a more robust host server.

Should I try it?: Buycott's layout and navigation are simple to use, and the app makes it easy to find campaigns and causes for which you might want to support or boycott. The app's premise rests on the demand for more information about the choices we make as consumers. "It simplifies the discovery process," said Pardo. If there's a campaign you want to add, Buycott will work with you to make sure the information is accurate. The information, however, is only as accurate as a company's public data-corporate structures and priorities change. To that end, its success will depend, in part, on users and how involved they are in staying on top of that information.