India, like many countries, has a shortage of safe blood. There aren’t enough people donating blood to meet the demand of people who need it. In some cases, this shortage leads to patients and their family being responsible for finding donors to replace blood in the blood banks or hospitals. This can cause high-stress situations as people try to find blood donors on their own — including by reaching out to their network on Facebook.
In India, this drives thousands of people to request blood donors on Facebook each week. Facebook’s 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.
Recently, Facebook announced a new effort to make it easier for people to sign up to be donors and a new way to connect people and organizations with information and tools to find blood donors when needed. Facebook has worked together with nonprofit organizations, health industry experts, potential donors, and people who have used Facebook to find blood donors to ensure that what Facebook is designing will be useful to people in India.
Starting October 1 — National Blood Donor Day — Facebook users in India will be able to start signing up to be blood donors. To help encourage participation, Facebook will show a message in News Feed or people can edit their Profiles to sign up. All information will remain private and set to “only me” by default, but people can choose to share their donor status on their timelines. This will first be available on Android and mobile web, as these are the most widely-used platforms in India.
In the next few weeks, Facebook also make it easier for people and organizations, such as blood banks and hospitals, to connect with blood donors on Facebook. When individuals or organizations are in need of blood, they’ll be able to create a special type of post with all the information donors need to easily offer help. When a request is created, Facebook will automatically notify blood donors who may be nearby to help spread the word.
Donors can then review the request and, if they wish to respond, contact the requestor directly through WhatsApp, Messenger or a phone call. The person who needs blood won’t be able to see any information about the donor unless the donor explicitly provides it when he/she reaches out to the person in need of blood.
By raising awareness and growing the number of blood donors in India, Facebook wants to make it easier for people and organizations to give and receive blood.