Can Facebook become a bigger force for social good?

Facebook’s announcement today that it will let users update their status to indicate that they’re organ donors might not have been the type of life-saving news that people were expecting.

But viewed as the possible start of something bigger, it gets a lot more interesting.

Sure, lots of companies are involved in philanthropy and social initiatives. But Facebook is in a unique position to make a massive impact (positive or negative) thanks to its huge population of users, now numbering more than 900 million.

“We never could have anticipated that what started as a small network would evolve into such a powerful tool for communication and problem solving,” said Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg in a post announcing the organ donation initiative. “As this happens, we hope to build tools that help people transform the way we all solve worldwide social problems.”

Here’s the big question: What next?

For more, see Good Morning America’s interview with Zuckerberg.

  • Guest

    It would be useful for Facebook to collect users’ blood types and automatically check users in to the sites of automobile accidents so that the paramedics can quickly find a nearby donor of the proper blood type.

    • Guest

       “Bob was just in three car pile up at I5 and I90″

      10 People “Like” this.

  • http://wac6.com/ William Carleton

    Todd, I’ll believe Zuckerberg and Sandberg are truly aiming to do good for the world when they set their sights on taking down advertising.

    • Guest

      You mean taking it down off their own site? If so, why make that a prerequisite for doing good? Don’t they need revenue and profits in order to do anything, including good? 

      • http://wac6.com/ William Carleton

        What makes you think advertising is the only way Facebook can make revenues or profit?

        —–Original message—–

        • Guest

          What makes you think that changing their main source of revenue today, just to appease your sensibilities, is their best bet for doing “good”?

    • Guest

      Advertising and altruism are compatible. Selling small banner ads is a rather simple way to defray the cost of this organ donor movement, the blood type movement, and other movements that will help our society.

      Advertising is hardly the only way Facebook can make money: they are also selling credits to use apps hosted on their site, for example. Advertising is simply the most successful strategy Zuckersand have executed so far.

      • http://wac6.com/ William Carleton

        This message brought to you by the anonymous ad council.

        But seriously, I’m not looking for altruism. FB could make trillions by pursuing relentless loyalty to users, rather than settling for mere billions in payola. Advertising is a tried and true 20th Century business model, may still work today for lots of media, but shouldn’t it be self-evident that ads clip the wings of *social* media, i.e. networks of user generated content.

        —–Original message—–

        • Guest

          Paid advertisements have made possible almost all of the web sites you read, including Facebook and GeekWire. Do you have any evidence of advertisers impeding engagement among networks of user-generated content, William? Furthermore, how would “pursuing relentless loyalty to users” generate more profit than do simple, relevant, microtargeted advertisements that sit unobtrusively at the perimeter of your web browser window?

          • http://wac6.com/ William Carleton

            The ads on GeekWire don’t determine the order of the articles, nor their content. The ads on NPR are always delivered by the same anonymous voice from nowhere, and not the trusted anchor personalities. The ads on Facebook are concealed and manipulative. I will concede that we may have different tastes, but I also happen to find the obvious ads on Facebook to be as tawdry and insulting as those on cable television.

          • Guest

            The ads on Facebook appear in the same position every time, to the right of all the content you care about, and are not integrated into your news feed. I’m sorry if you are unable to distinguish different regions of a web page, but because I can, I am not offended by Facebook’s monetisation. Furthermore, since you have not answered any of my questions, I would like to thank you for your attempts at participation and I wish you a good night.

          • http://wac6.com/ William Carleton

            I meant no offense and I certainly appreciate the chance to learn about other people’s perspective. I would suggest that you have a look at Facebook’s draft IPO prospectus, and in particular, the business section. It discusses how advertisers can manipulate what shows up in a user’s timeline – well, not just any user, but those targeted to suit the advertiser and juice conversion rates. More insidious may be the use of Facebook users as unwitting, unpaid “trusted” endorsers. It’s a scheme worthy of Madmen!

            —–Original message—–