Facebook's 'life-saving tool' -- an organ donor feature

The wide-reaching social network now offers the ability to share whether you are an organ donor, in the hopes that this will save more lives on a daily basis.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg in a video tease for his appearance on Good Morning America. Screenshot by Jonathan Skillings/CNET

Facebook has launched a new "life-saving" tool, allowing its 900 million users to share their organ donation status on their timelines.

The world's largest social network now allows U.S. and U.K. users to include a life story on their profile pages, and offers a link urging users to sign up for official organ donation services in their region.


Credit: Screenshot via ZDNet

Writing for ABC News, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg note how "amazed" the two were in how people use Facebook to share "billions of stories, updates and photos," and how "people use these same tools and social dynamics to address important issues and challenges in their communities."

Zuckerberg said his friendship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in October of pancreatic cancer, was one of the driving forces in harnessing the social network for spreading awareness.

"We never could have anticipated that what started as a small network would evolve into such a powerful tool for communication and problem solving."

More than 114,000 U.S. residents are waiting for organ donations, according to the U.S. Department of Health. "Many of those people -- an average of 18 people per day -- will die waiting, because there simply aren't enough organ donors to meet the need," Zuckerberg and Sandberg said.

Using the power of Facebook, they want those figures to fall.

While organ donation is a very worthy cause, it may not have been what was expected in the run-up to the today's announcement. Considering there has been a noticeable rise in cyberbullying in recent years with Facebook often at the hub of the issue, some had expected the social network to announce a plan to combat the problem.

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This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Facebook adds 'life saving' organ donor feature to Timeline."

 

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