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4 Unexpected Uses for Social Media

Paul Chambers

By Paul Chambers | January 2016

Facebook started off as a simplified way to stay in touch with friends and family. However, the longer social networks are around – the more uses we find for them. Implementing social networks in to our daily lives has made a variety of tasks easier. Today’s blog concentrates on some unexpected ways that social networks have helped us in recent years.

Organ Donation

As of today, with a few clicks on Facebook – you can notify the world that you are an organ donor. Facebook unveiled the new donor status option today and allows users to add registry info and describe their personal story. If users are not registered organ donors, Facebook will link them to the appropriate registry. Facebook hopes to help the more than 114,000 people within the United States and millions around the world who are waiting for an organ transplant.

The idea of using Facebook to find organ donors is not new. Because the average wait time for an organ is three to five years, many have taken to social networks to track down matching organs. A 51-year-old Chicago man created a Facebook group to keep friends and family informed about his declining health. Within his posts, Jeffrey Wilson reminded readers that he was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. After 17 months in dialysis, Wilson’s Facebook posts reached the right person. Because of a Facebook, Wilson received a new kidney in March.

Natural Disasters

After natural disasters strike, Internet users across the globe have utilized social networks to reconnect family members, pets and material goods.

Last year, when the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan left phone lines destroyed – hundreds took to social networks to find loves ones and organize relief efforts. People were also able to keep updated about altered train schedules and find lists of homeless shelters.

After tornadoes destroyed homes in southern Indiana earlier this year, one woman took to Facebook to reconnect people with their material goods. Though many homes were completely destroyed, people have been able to recover several meaningful items such as high school diplomas, photographs and birth certificates. By posting pictures of the items in a Facebook group, users can locate things that they never expected to see again.

Another devastating tornado destroyed Joplin Missouri in May of 2011. The deadly tornado killed more than 150 people and separated more than a thousand animals from their owners.  Locals created an animal’s lost and found page on Facebook and were able to reunite hundreds of owners with their beloved pets. The group has more than 16,000 likes and continues to reunite lost animals with their owners.

Catching Criminals

Law enforcement agencies around the world are now using social networks to identify criminals.

Last year, New York Police Department opened a new social media unit to monitor conversations on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace. The new unit supervises posts related to house parties, gangs and drugs. At least two New York murders have been solved with evidence provided by Facebook posts.

The amount of criminals that use social networks to brag about their recent crimes is pretty astonishing. Hundreds of local law enforcement agencies have added social media monitoring to officers’ daily tasks. Check out this list of seven suspected criminals and their incriminating Facebook posts.


In 1995, forever altered how animal lovers would adopt pets. Petfinder has helped with more than 13 million adoptions. With the help of social networks, Petfinder has been able to expand their reach. Facebook users can now view and share pet information with Facebook, encouraging others to adopt homeless animals. The Humane Society reports adoptions rates have increased with the assistance of social networks.

Not only do social media help with pet adoption, it also aids in finding lost pets. Facebook has the ability to operate as a Lost Pet sign in the 21st century. Users can quickly update their status with a pet’s picture and info. Friends can then spread that status update, increasing how many people see the post.

Paul Chambers

Written by

Element5 Digital

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