I can't believe it, but I'm actually feeling sorry for a company. Target
The cutting edge
According to its Web site, since 1946, Target has given 5% of its back to the communities in which it operates, which amounts to $3 million each week. Whatever your opinion on the candidate Target's supporting, it's hard to deny that the company's done a lot of good.
Yet thanks to tools such as Facebook and Twitter, disgruntled consumers can -- and do -- spread disgruntlement quickly. As I type this, there's a "Boycott Target" Facebook page with more than 73,000 supporters. As each of them joined the page, their 20 or 200 or 2,000 friends heard about it as well.
I typed "boycott" into Facebook's search box, and turned up more than 3,000 pages! Clearly, angry people are spreading the word about companies and other things they don't like. Many of their campaigns could affect shareholders' investments in the companies in question.
A page about boycotting BP
The big picture
When you learn about a company doing something you don't like, consider the big picture before you call for a boycott. Procter & Gamble
Of course, sometimes a big-picture look might still spur you to take action. If you support California's eco-friendly Global Warming Solutions Act, you might want to know that Valero Energy
With so many points of view in America, and so many people who passionately support one side or another, it might be smart for corporations to just not contribute to politicians or political causes at all. The potential for a hit to their reputations, deserved or not, simply might not be worth it.
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Procter & Gamble. The Fool owns shares of and has written covered calls on Procter & Gamble, which is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Altria Group. Try any of our investing newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.