Facebook Profiles Add Organ Donor Status

Facebook will invite American and British users — more than 200 million people — to share their organ-donor status on their personal profiles. This, the company hopes, will start conversations about organ donation and perhaps create enough peer pressure to nudge more people to sign up.

Experts in the field are excited:

They say people declaring on Facebook that they are organ donors could spur others to sign up at motor vehicle departments or online registries. But these experts say Facebook could create an informal alternative to such registries that could, even though it carries less legal weight, lead to more organ donations. That is because a disclosure on Facebook could provide the evidence of consent that family members need when deciding whether to donate the organs of a loved one.

To date, says the New York Times, fewer than half of Americans have become organ donors, but that number could skyrocket if millions shift their status — even if it’s not legally binding. Moving the decision from a DMV office to the more intimate surroundings of Facebook friends could make the decision easier. The feature will include links to online donor registries, where people can change their donor status.

Can this kind of social engineering really work? The 114,000 people waiting for organ transplants in the U.S. certainly hope so.

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