The Journal of Clinical Ethics




The Side-Effects of the "Facebook Effect": Challenging Facebook’s "Organ Donor" Application

Adam M. Peña

The Journal of Clinical Ethics 25, no. 1 (Spring 2014): 65-7.



A recent study published in the American Journal of Organ Transplantation proposes that an organ donor application in Facebook can increase the rates at which individuals donate organs. While I offer support for the use of social media mechanisms in the service of the promotion of organ donation public health initiatives, there are several ethical concerns surrounding informed consent. While Facebook has made a noble effort to aid public health initiatives focused on organ donation, the current application does not promote decisions that are based on individuals’ personal values and goals. Without an intervention that promotes an understanding and appreciation of a decision for or against donation, the application does not obtain informed consent. Without first ensuring that a Facebook member has registered with her or his own state donor registry, this social media mechanism may create more confusion than clarity about an individual’s organ donor status. If Facebook desires to have a positive impact on the rates of organ donation, it must do so in a manner that obtains proper consent and promotes ethically informed decisions.


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