It can’t do much to assuage your fear of needles, but Facebook can help you address a growing need the world over — blood donations. This week, the social network debuted a new initiative that seeks to harness the power of social media for good, specifically by bringing blood donors and those in need of blood together. It’s being unveiled first in India, a nation with a noted shortage of safe blood, in conjunction with an upcoming National Blood Donor Day, which is on Sunday, October 1. Starting on that day, Facebook users in the South Asian country will be able to sign up on Facebook to become a blood donor. And to encourage participation, the social network will show a message in News Feed.
According to a company announcement, Facebook currently sees thousands of requests for blood donors in India every week. ” Our research suggests that when people have better information and tools, they’re more willing to donate blood — and it’s easier for people who need blood to find donors,” the social network added.
While all blood donor information will remain private, users can choose to share their donor status if they opt out of the default “only me” status. Once folks have begun signing up to donate, Facebook says that it will help make it easier for blood banks, hospitals, and the like to contact blood donors. Over the next few weeks, individuals or organizations who need blood will be given the opportunity to create a special post that includes all the relevant information a blood donor may need to determine his or her eligibility.
Anytime these requests are created, Facebook will notify nearby blood donors who can either respond via WhatsApp, Messenger, or a phone call, or spread the word to others. To maintain privacy, Facebook notes that the requester won’t be able to view any information about the donor unless he or she elects to provide it.
“We hope this new feature helps people come together in ways that weren’t possible before,” Facebook concluded. “By raising awareness and growing the number of blood donors in India, we want to make it easier for people and organizations to give and receive blood.”