More than just friends: Facebook as a useful tool

By Fabienne Faur, Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 17 2012 11:14 AM | Updated as of May 22 2012 12:11 AM

WASHINGTON - Facebook is about more than connecting with friends. It can be about finding a lost relative, saving a life or overthrowing a regime.

Here are examples, some drawn from "Best of Facebook Stories," a compilation of anecdotes that appear -- where else -- on Facebook, and others from the news media:

FATHER: Jessica Mayer always knew she'd been adopted. Her biological father's name was on her birth certificate, but for years, the American could never seem to find him -- until a friend spotted the dad's profile on Facebook with his surname spelled differently. Father and daughter went on to be reunited in Britain. (Facebook)

SAFE: Worried about her son's strangely puffy face, New York mother Deborah Copaken Kogan posted photos of the four-year-old boy on Facebook after doctors failed to identify the problem. A friend immediately recognized a rare case of Kawasaki disease, an inflammation of the blood vessels, called the mother and told her to get the lad to hospital. His life was saved. (

SURVIVORS: No sooner did US Airways Flight 1549 splash into the Hudson River in New York than a Facebook page was created to enable the 155 survivors (there were no fatalities) to share news, photos and good wishes at every anniversary of the incident. Two passengers who sat three rows apart on the aircraft befriended themselves on Facebook, and went on to fall in love. (Facebook)

CLEAN-UP: Forty-eight hours after August 2011 riots in London flared, a "Post riot clean-up: Let's help London" page was set up to urge Facebook users to take up their brooms and clean debris off the streets. It gathered 3,600 users in a matter of hours, of whom hundreds heeded the call. (Facebook).

LEUKEMIA: US teenager Samir Pendse urgently needed a bone marrow transplant that could only come from someone who shared his South Asian ethnicity, but few persons who could fit that requirement were registered marrow donors. Out of a Facebook campaign to find a life-saving donor for Pense, Stanford University marketing professor Jennifer Aaker developed 100K Cheeks, a vast database of potential South Asian donors who could step forward and help in similar medical crises. (Stanford University News)

BIGAMY: Alan L. O'Neill, a 41-year-old from Washington state, left his wife without getting a divorce, then remarried under another name. On Facebook, wife number one befriended wife number two, who had proudly posted a photo of her new husband and their wedding cake. The result: O'Neill found himself facing bigamy charges in court. (The Huffington Post)

REVOLUTION: In the midst of anti-government protests in Tunisia, one "Ali" spent 18 hours a day overseeing a Facebook page filled with new photos and videos from demonstrators. Despite a crackdown that targeted Internet users in particular, president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country in mid-January 2011. (The Daily Beast)

© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse