aVOID: A Review of the Latest Charitable Browser Plugin
Peter Panda

There’s a new plugin called aVOID that is meant to block your shopping results so that you never accidentally buy something that would support child labor. Good idea? Sure, if you’re passionate about shopping responsibly. Great execution? I’m not convinced. Hopefully, they develop the technology further, but as of now, my quick test of this function raised more questions than answers.

It’s available for Google Chrome and Safari for now. You can turn it on or off, and you can also elect to show icons in place of the items if you want to see that you’re missing something. The screenshot below shows how the plugin looks when you pull it up in your browser, showing those two settings.

To test it out, I followed the directions given on their site:

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I searched for one of their recommended brands (Guess) who, as their list proclaims, a) did not have a corporate policy against child labor, b) does not control the production, and c) has allegations regarding child labor. I searched for “guess” on one of their recommended sites, Target.com. What I found was interesting for several reasons. See below for what pops up when the filter is on (both with icons or without) and when it’s off:

Now this is interesting for multiple reasons:

  • If you want to educate shoppers on companies that are not responsible, wouldn’t hiding the products be counter-productive? Now I have NO idea what to “avoid” in the future if I am shopping in real life or on the phone or not in that specific browser with the plugin on. There’s seemingly very little education involved unless you look at their long list of companies (warning, the page is in German). But if you wanted to install this and be able to shop on any site, this does not help spread awareness of which companies are responsible or not.
  • When you choose to see an icon instead of it being entirely hidden, that still doesn’t help much. Wouldn’t it make more sense to gray out the items, so you see what they are but don’t get to buy them?
  • If you look at that last screenshot, you’ll see that MANY results were hidden that had nothing to do with the clothing brand GUESS, but simply included that word in their search. So suddenly books and games are hidden as well. (But I wouldn’t know that unless I was doing this type of experiment.)
    So what do you think? Is having a browser plugin something you would like so as to avoid unknowingly supporting child labor? Do you think this plugin is how that experience should be, or what improvements would you make? Does this type of technology speak to future plugins? Would you want one that eliminates non-local products or products that are made with environmentally-friendly practices? There are many possibilities for this concept to take off. There are also, in this writer’s opinion, improvements to be made for the best shopper experience that both avoids irresponsible purchasing and enhances consumer awareness and education. I would love to hear your thoughts!

This was originally posted on 501Connect.

Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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