PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, but according to America’s Blood Center, less than 10% of people who can give blood actually donate.
Summer months are particularly challenging, according to Kara LeBlanc, from the Rhode Island Blood Center.
“We’re already seeing in June a decline in our donor centers because the weather is nice,” LeBlanc told Eyewitness News. “It’s not top of mind, even though the patients need it just as much as they do any other time of year.”
Now, Facebook wants to help connect donors with blood banks, in an effort to increase blood donations.
The social media giant launched an online tool Wednesday, which allows users to sign up to be blood donors.
“We will be able to let donors know when there is a particular need, a certain blood type, a summer shortage,” LeBlanc explained.
The tool will also let users know where to donate.
Facebook rolled out the program in five U.S. cities, with plans to expand across the country. LeBlanc said she expects the RI Blood Center to be part of the initiative by the end of the summer.
“We’ve been using social media for a long time,” LeBlanc said. “It is often one of the most effective ways we can get a message out to the donors immediately.”
In an interview with CNN, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg answered questions about potential security concerns.
“With blood donations, we’re not using or giving out any personal information,” Sandberg said. “We show you a notice. You choose to go to a partner site, like the American Red Cross and register. They’ll send you a notification and then you can choose to give them your information.”
“We’re not passing any individual information at all,” she added.
About 35 million people in four countries abroad have already signed up on Facebook as blood donors, according to the company.