The popularity of a new smartphone app that allows consumers to more effectively boycott products according to their political tastes has skyrocketed thanks to the international outrage sparked by the conflict in the Gaza Strip.
According to Sky News, over 400,000 people downloaded Buycott, the app that gives users the option of making sure that the wares they purchase in stores do not financially benefit a cause to which they are opposed. Shoppers simply activate the app by waving it in front of a bar code that signals whether the origins of a particular product meets the buyer’s specifications.
The app offers users the option of boycotting Israeli goods, with 49 Israeli brands stored in the database. The groups of boycotters, one of which is listed under the title Long Live Palestine Boycott, garnered 275,000 memberships who now have a mechanism that will allow them to avoid purchasing products from Israeli brands like Sabra, SodaStream, and Volvo, which, according to pro-Palestinian supporters, is a company that sells Israel equipment used to dismantle Palestinian settlements in the West Bank.
“I noticed three weeks ago that we were seeing an unusual spike in traffic,” the app’s founder, Ivan Pardo, told Forbes. “Next thing I knew Buycott was a top 10 app in the UK and Netherlands, and number one in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Word was spreading through social media.”
While the Israel-Hamas crisis has provided a boost for the app’s popularity, Pardo told Forbes that the software was not specifically designed to target any particular cause, and that he himself does not hold any strong opinion on the conflict one way or the other.
"It bothers me that a lot of people are downloading Buycott and thinking that it was written specifically to boycott Israel,” Pardo told Forbes. “It was not, and to counter that notion I have been actively encouraging pro-Israel groups to start campaigns supporting Israel."