Earlier this week, Facebook announced a game-changing new feature.
Users can now include “organ donation status” as part of their profiles. There is even a prompt for users to share their reasons for becoming organ donors.
A Facebook status update does not usurp the need for the official organ donor registration in your state, but it does make it clear to friends and family that it is an issue you care about.
Facebook added the organ donation feature to raise awareness to the issue after CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, took a personal interest in it, partly because of his friendship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Jobs’s liver transplant extended his life several years.
The move will raise awareness about the critical shortage of organs for people in need of life-saving transplants. It may also create social pressure that inspires Facebook friends to consider registration.
It is a game-changer for a few other reasons.
It is a public awareness campaign of epic proportions. The site has
526 million users per day worldwide . Nothing Facebook does flies under the radar screen.
The activity it has already generated dwarfs donation registrations from any other initiative. At the end of the day Zuckerberg made the announcement, 100,000 users updated their profiles to declare themselves organ donors. At least 22,000 people followed the Facebook-provided link to online registries within twenty-four hours of the announcement.1
The feature will also serve another very important purpose. It can be used as a life-planning tool that provides direction and comfort to families in times of incredible stress and grief.
The potential donor’s intentions have been declared to family and friends; depending upon the settings elected, to the public at large too. The declaration may give grieving families evidence that puts their mind at ease about their newly lost loved ones’ wishes.
As features such as the organ donor declaration evolve, Facebook may take a larger role as a life-planning tool. How far down the line is it before people start putting “Do Not Resuscitate” orders on their timelines? Profile pictures of their living wills?
Sure, privacy is an issue. As users can increase their comfort with privacy settings within Facebook; however, they may also find it useful in declaring their life goals and values.
1. Stobbe, Mike Facebook Organ Donor initiative Prompts 100,000 Users To Select New Option Huffington Post. May 2, 2012. www.huffingtonpost.com