Facebook users in India will have the option to sign up as blood donors starting from October 1st, which is National Blood Donor Day. There is a shortage of safe blood in India, and Facebook says sometimes patients and families needing blood will reach out on social media networks to locate donors. In an effort to address this, Facebook is introducing new features to help donors, patients, and hospitals connect more easily. These will include the option for nearby donors to be notified of blood requests.
Facebook will begin showing a message in the News Feed prompting users to sign up as blood donors. The information will remain private and set to “only me” by default, though users can share their donor status on their profile if they wish. The feature will roll out on Android and the mobile web first, as they’re the most popular platforms in India, Facebook noted.
More tools will be rolled out in stages. If someone or a clinic needs blood, they can create a special post that includes information about where the blood is needed, contact information, and an option to identify the blood group required and an anecdote about the patient. When that request is posted, those nearby who have indicated they’re willing to donate blood will be sent a Facebook notification and given the option to respond through Messenger, WhatsApp, or a call. Donors’ details are kept private unless they choose to disclose it to the person in need of blood.
In designing the new features, Facebook says it worked with non-profit organizations, health industry experts, potential donors, and those who have used Facebook to find blood donors. “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,” wrote Hema Budaraju, head of Facebook programs in South Asia, in a statement.
If you live in India, you’ll be able to sign up here to identify yourself as a Facebook blood donor.