Frequently Asked Questions
Please take a look at our list of frequently asked questions below. You can reveal the answer by simply clicking on the question.
If you have other questions, or would simply like to drop us a line, please feel free to contact us at any time.
What is a boycott?
A boycott is a form of consumer activism involving the act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with someone or some other organization as an expression of protest.
Once I use the site to setup a new boycott, how will I let other people know and get them to join?
BoycottOwl.com not only allows you to create and organize company boycotts, but we put a number of tools in your hands to promote it. Your boycott will be most successful in terms of attracting people to join by following the tips on the Start a Boycott page. Once created, we will give you tools to keep the boycott updated with new developments, an area to add any responses you have received from the company you are boycotting, as well as other notification tools such as integration with Twitter and inviting your friends via email.
Are my name and email address kept completely confidential?
Yes! Our system will never display your name or email address at any time. However, if you utilize certain tools that allow you to private message other users, those people will be able to view and reply to your email address through their own email client.
I have a boycott I would like to organize that would appeal to a specific group of people, can your site help?
Absolutely. All of the users who have created BoycottOwl.com accounts are given the opportunity to select automatic notification of new boycotts based upon a number of things including gender, race/ethnic group, religion and sexual orientation. When you create a new boycott, you will have the option of selecting from any of those groups to specifically target.
What do I do if a comment I find is irrelevant or profane?
All comments are made live on the site as soon as they are submitted. We do our best to moderate comments as they come in, but you are also welcome to help us out by clicking the associated "Flag This Comment" link next to each comment.
Can I create a boycott of any company or organization?
Yes. We have provided a list for hundreds of leading companies, but you may also enter a new company if they are not currently in our database.
Is there a way to alert people that have joined my boycott once the boycott is over?
Yes. As the originator of the boycott you will have the ability to alert all of the people who have requested to be notified when your demands have been met so that they are aware the boycott has ended.
How will the company I am boycotting even know it is happening, and will they respond?
Every case is different. However, it is probably safe to say that the more people you get to join your boycott, the more of a chance there is that the company will become aware of it, and even act to make sure it is ended. Companies will have the opportunity to respond directly through this web site, and their responses can be published for all users to see.
Where did the term "boycott" originate from?
Courtesy of WikiPedia.com - The word boycott entered the English language during the Irish "Land War" and is derived from the name of Captain Charles Boycott, the estate agent of an absentee landlord, the Earl Erne, in County Mayo, Ireland, who was subject to social ostracism organized by the Irish Land League in 1880. In September that year protesting tenants demanded from Boycott a substantial reduction in their rents. He not only refused but also evicted them from the land. Charles Stewart Parnell, in his Ennis Speech proposed that, rather than resorting to violence, everyone in the locality should refuse to deal with him. Despite the short-term economic hardship to those undertaking this action, Boycott soon found himself isolated�his workers stopped work in the fields and stables, as well as the house. Local businessmen stopped trading with him, and the local postman refused to deliver mail. The concerted action taken against him meant that Boycott was unable to hire anyone to harvest the crops in his charge. Eventually 50 Orangemen from Cavan and Monaghan volunteered to harvest his crops. They were escorted to and from Claremorris by one thousand policemen and soldiers�this despite the fact that Boycott's complete social ostracism meant that he was actually in no danger of being harmed. Moreover, this protection ended up costing far more than the harvest was worth. After the harvest, the "boycott" was successfully continued. Within weeks Boycott's name was everywhere. It was used by The Times in November 1880 as a term for organized isolation. According to an account in the book �The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland� by Michael Davitt, the term was coined by Fr. John O'Malley of County Mayo to "signify ostracism applied to a landlord or agent like Boycott". The Times first reported on November 20, 1880: �The people of New Pallas have resolved to 'boycott' them and refused to supply them with food or drink.� The Daily News wrote on December 13, 1880: �Already the stoutest-hearted are yielding on every side to the dread of being 'Boycotted'.� By January of the following year, the word was being used figuratively: "Dame Nature arose.... She 'Boycotted' London from Kew to Mile End" (The Spectator, January 22, 1881). On December 1, 1880 Captain Boycott left his post and withdrew to England, with his family.
Are boycotts legal?
Boycotts are unquestionably legal under the common law. The right to engage in commerce, social intercourse, and friendship implies the right not to engage in commerce, social intercourse, and friendship; since a boycott is voluntary and nonviolent, it is unable to be stopped by the law. Opponents of boycotts historically have the choice of suffering under it, yielding to its demands, or attempting to suppress it through extralegal means, such as force and coercion.
Boycotts are generally legal in developed countries. Occasionally, some restrictions may apply; for instance, in the United States, it may be unlawful for a union to engage in "secondary boycotts" (to request that its members boycott companies that supply items to an organization already under a boycott, in the United States); however, the union is of course free to use its right to speak freely to inform its members of the fact that suppliers of a company are breaking a boycott; its members then may take whatever action they deem appropriate, in consideration of that fact. Individual consumers are always free to make whatever purchasing decisions they want, for whatever reasons they wish; that is the essence of a free society and a free market.
In the United States, the antiboycott provisions of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) apply to all "U.S. persons", defined to include individuals and companies located in the United States and their foreign affiliates. The antiboycott provisions are intended to prevent United States citizens and companies being used as instrumentalities of a foreign government's foreign policy. The EAR forbids participation in or material support of boycotts initiated by foreign governments, for example, the Arab League boycott of Israel. These persons are subject to the law when their activities relate to the sale, purchase, or transfer of goods or services (including the sale of information) within the United States or between the United States and a foreign country. This covers exports and imports, financing, forwarding and shipping, and certain other transactions that may take place wholly offshore.
However, the EAR only applies to foreign government initiated boycotts: a domestic boycott campaign arising within the United States that happens to also have the same object as the foreign-government-initiated boycott is completely lawful, assuming that it is an independent effort not connected with the foreign government's boycott. Anti-boycott organizations often attempt to claim that domestic boycott campaigns that are not related to a foreign governmental boycott are in violation of these regulations; unfortunately, for them, their claims are untrue, and potentially unlawful. Inducing government action through lies or fraud, attempting to suppress free speech through intimidation, or falsely claiming that a domestic boycott campaign is foreign governmental in origin may, in fact, constitute conspiracy against civil rights, a Federal felony, punishable by fine and imprisonment. Provided that an individual or an organization does not act at the behest of a foreign government's boycott, or foreign organizations responding to a foreign government's boycott, it is completely lawful to choose to--or to choose not to--engage in commerce with anyone they please for any reasons they wish.
Other legal impediments to certain boycotts remain. One set are Refusal to deal laws, which prohibit concerted efforts to eliminate competition by refusal to buy from or to sell to a party. Similarly, boycotts may also run afoul of Anti-discimination laws, for example New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination prohibits any place that offers goods, services and facilities to the general public, such as a restaurant, from denying or withholding any accommodation to (i.e., not to engage in commerce with) an individual because of that individual's race (etc.)