In addition to listing your birthdate and where you went to college, Facebook now wants you to post your organ donor status on your profile page. The idea is to encourage more people to register to be organ donors. It’s a noble cause and Facebook has reason to think this is a good idea. According to The New York Times, nearly 7,000 people die each year while waiting for an organ transplant.
But critics of Facebook’s plan are worried that this is one more step towards social engineering rather than just social networking. And some commenters have understandable privacy concerns. Once we start announcing our donor status on Facebook, what’s next? And others, wary of Facebook becoming like “Big Brother,” wonder how Facebook might somehow profit from this information.
The idea is that having people post their donor status will encourage others to sign up to become organ donors at motor vehicle departments or online registries. Simply posting that you’re an organ donor on Facebook will not be enough to enroll you in an organ donation registry.
But it could make a significant difference to people who are waiting for organ transplants.
“This is going to be an historic day in transplants,” said Dr. Andrew Cameron, the surgical director of liver transplantation at Johns Hopkins Hospital told The New York Times. According to Dr. Cameron, Facebook’s decision could prompt millions of people to change their donation status. “The math will radically change, and we may well eliminate the problem.”
Facebook will include the new organ donation status with other health information, such as weight loss or broken bones, in a Health and Wellness section.
New York Times readers (at least those who commented online) were skeptical about Facebook’s plan and concerned about where it may lead. Will Facebook someday eliminate the need for medical records because we’ll be sharing all of the information online?
“By aiding and abetting your corporate owner with more ‘information’ about you, you are increasing the assets and value of the Facebook corporation. You’re also completing sacrificing any shred of privacy you thought you had,” wrote one commenter.
Another wrote, “Facebook might as well have another form to fill out for sperm donorship. Or adoption. Or stem cell / in vitro ‘left overs.’ Why not simply turn Facebook into a more diverse version of The [Village] Voice’s ‘Back Page’?”
What do you think? Does the clear upside outweigh the potential downside in this case? Do you plan to post your donation status?
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Photo: Shutterstock/Doctor Standing in Patients Room