Does The Facebook Organ Donor Life Event Change Users’ Habits?

By Justin Lafferty 

Earlier this year, Facebook added organ donation to the life events section, allowing users to announce it to their friends. But does announcing that you’re an organ donor on Facebook really change your offline habits? According to a Purdue University health expert, no.

In addition to allowing users to post their status as an organ donor, Facebook also connects people to resources and information regarding organ donation.

While Susan Morgan, a professor of health communication at Purdue University in Indiana, admired Facebook’s efforts to bring more awareness to the need for organ donors, she doesn’t think it will lead to a change in users’ habits away from the computer:

While it’s great to see people supporting registration, social media is not a cure-all for changing people’s behaviors. It looks easy compared to rounding up volunteers or grassroots communication efforts, but if social media were that powerful we would see more changes and a greater increase in donor registrations. It’s a negligible effect that generates some excitement. … Facebook is powerful, and it is great to see the focus on registering to be an organ donor, but how does posting lead to action? Its reach to millions of Americans is appealing, but we need to remember change is on a more personal and individual level.

However, Morgan does see social networks such as Facebook and Twitter as a great way for people to connect and share information:

When you are connected by Facebook friends or the Twitter community, there are often people posting who have a wealth of information about health conditions or social issues, such as fat shaming or how autistic children behave in public. Users absorb this information as they see it through someone’s eyes. When you don’t understand something you keep it at arm’s length, but Facebook makes it easy for your friends to educate you. This is helpful, but health communicators and educators need to focus on the next step – how to motivate people to act.

Readers: Have you shared your organ donor status on Facebook?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.