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With its latest tool, Facebook is out for blood (donations, that is)


Facebook will notify you for upcoming events, charity fundraisers — and soon, blood centers in need of donations. On Wednesday, June 12, Facebook launched the Blood Donations tool in the U.S., allowing blood donation centers to reach out to registered users when supplies are low.

First launched in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, and Pakistan in 2017, the Blood Donations tool is designed to simplify the potentially life-saving process. The tool focuses on three things — notifying users when area blood banks need donations, listing nearby places for donations, and empowering users to invite friends to donate as well.

Facebook users who sign up using the Blood Donations option inside the About section can receive notifications when an area blood bank is requesting donations. Users will see a section called “nearby requests” with a list of organizations and the blood type that is needed. A facilities section lists the nearby locations for donations.

In the four countries where Facebook launched the feature two years ago, 35 million users have signed up to use the tool. Surveys at blood banks in Brazil and India suggest that 20 percent of those visiting the center were influenced by Facebook Blood Donations.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The feature will soon be rolling out throughout the U.S. over the next few months after first launching in major cities today, including Chicago, New York City, the San Fransisco Bay area, Baltimore and Washington D.C. Facebook’s current list of organizations that will use the tool includes America’s Blood Centers, the American Red Cross, Inova, New York Blood Center, Rock River Valley Blood Center, Stanford Blood Center, Versaiti, and Vitalant.

“Through our partnership with Facebook, individuals will be able to conveniently find and connect with their local blood center to help meet the ongoing need for a diverse pool of blood donors in the U.S. and share their experiences and the importance of blood donation,” Kate Fry, chief executive officer at America’s Blood Centers, said in a press release. “By encouraging blood donation as a way of life, each of us can assure that the more than 30,000 pints of blood used daily throughout the country is available.”

Users must agree to blood donor terms to sign up for the notifications, which recognizes that Facebook is “only an intermediary and facilitator” and leaves the responsibility of assessing a blood bank’s reputation and providing accurate information up to the user. The tool doesn’t appear to ask users for sensitive information such as blood type, in the wake of multiple privacy and data scandals.

Users can sign up for notifications by navigating to the About section on their profile, clicking to edit the section, and tapping on “learn more about blood donations.” The feature is available beginning today to users across the U.S., however, some may not see donation centers until the feature expands to additional locations over the next few months.

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