Marking World Blood Donor Day, Facebook has announced that more than 100 million people around the world have now signed up for its Blood Donations feature, through which Facebook users can get notifications from nearby blood banks about donation opportunities.
As explained by Facebook:
"Since we first launched the Blood Donations feature in India in 2017, we have expanded to 37 countries - now including Australia, Colombia, Israel, Singapore and Tunisia as of today. In the first two months after our US launch in June 2019, the Blood Donations feature increased donations from first-time blood donors at partner sites by 19%, while in Brazil and India, the share of donors at blood banks who said that they were influenced by a Facebook notification to donate blood increased from 0% to 14% in the first year."
Amid all the various criticisms of Facebook and the negative impacts it can have on society, this is a perfect example of the benefits that it can also bring, with the expanded reach of The Social Network providing a perfect channel for raising awareness of key causes - which, as you can see, can have significant benefits.
As Facebook notes, its Blood Donations feature was first launched in India in 2017, before being expanded to the US in 2019. Users can sign-up for relevant notifications in-app, helping to boost awareness of relevant areas of need.
Facebook expanded its Blood Donation alerts last year, in response to the pandemic, by adding the option into its Community Help Hub, while it also added the capacity for blood donation centers to share their donation opportunities via Facebook Events, helping to further boost exposure by creating News Feed prompts from those who sign up.
It feels like a rare opportunity of highlighting how Facebook's scale can be used for good, but clearly, there are significant community benefits in this respect, and there are ways that Facebook can help to bring people together around such causes and needs.
Misinformation remains a key concern, as does platform misuse, and abuse, but there are ways that Facebook can form a key, foundational element in building a better society. Whether the good outweighs the bad, or ever can, is another point of debate, but its Blood Donation tools, and results, are one example of the role it can play in such.
Facebook also hosted a Global Forum on Blood Donations last week, in which health leaders, blood donation experts and young blood donor advocates from around the world came together to discuss strategies to inspire young people to donate. You can view the replay here.