Facebook Introduces Organ Donor Registration
May 1, 2012

Facebook Introduces Organ Donor Registration

Brett Smith for RedOrbit.com

If you´ve ever read an “exhausting vacation” status update, you know that one phenomenon to arise of out the social network era is that of the ℠humble brag,´

A new feature unveiled by Facebook today will put a positive spin on the humble brag and might even save a few lives. The company announced that users will now be able register as an organ donor and can share this news through the web site.

In an interview with ABC´s Good Morning America, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said his company hopes they can play a role in addressing the worldwide shortage of donor organs.

“By just having this simple tool, we think that people can really help spread awareness of organ donation and that they want to participate in this to their friends,” Zuckerberg told ABC's Robin Roberts. “We think that it can be a big part in helping to solve the crisis that´s out there.”

For Facebook users to use the new feature, they must simply click on the ℠Life Events´ button in the Timeline section of their profile. A new ℠Organ Donor“¦´ option that appears allows users to register as an organ donor, share when they registered, and write a personal story that can be posted to their profile.

Zuckerberg said he doesn´t expect the shortage of available organs to be solved by the Organ Donor feature overnight, but hopes it will generate awareness and momentum toward meeting the needs of transplant candidates.

“We think that a lot of people, who might just be on the fence about whether or not they want to do this, could be convinced to [donate]. That´s a shift in society that will probably take a while to fully take hold, but I think that if people choose to share these stories with their friends–that could make a big difference over time.”

Over 114,000 Americans are waiting for vital organ transplants that could save their lives, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. With just over 28,000 transplant operations last year, many patients suffer or lose their life waiting for hearts, kidneys, and other organs to become available.

In conceiving the Organ Donor feature, Zuckerberg noted the success people had connecting during disasters and tragedies over the past year, including the tsunami in Japan and widespread tornadoes across the southern and Midwest States. Many people used the site in the wake of those disasters to locate friends and family or to recover lost items.

Facebook has also played an important role in generating other types of social change.  Last year, a report by the Arab Social Media Report and the Dubai School of Government found that 9 in 10 Egyptians and Tunisians surveyed in March 2011 said they were using Facebook to organize protests or spread awareness about them. The report also said all but one of the protests called for on Facebook ended up coming to life on the streets.

Facebook has become such a key element for social change, that it is banned in a number of autocratic countries like China, Iran, and Pakistan who find the web site threatening.