Friday, September 21, 2007

Facebook Saves Lives

Finally - a tale that dispositively answers all the Facebook naysayers.

This true Toronto story is from Canadian Press:

Public health department uses Facebook to trace woman exposed to rabid bat

TORONTO - Some people use Facebook to keep in touch with old friends, others to make new ones. And at least one grateful woman has used the website to find the son she gave up for adoption.

But Toronto Public Health officials have put the online social network to what may be a new use - locating a woman who needed rabies shots because she had handled a rabid bat.

The department's manager of communications, Mary Margaret Crapper, said Toronto Public Health had explored all the traditional methods of trying to find the woman before turning to Facebook.

"Telephone book. Google. In situations like this we even went to the police to see if they may be able to assist. So yeah, we try a lot of different sources of information," Crapper said.

The department had even issued an advisory to the media. Several Toronto radio and television stations and newspapers alerted the public about its search for a woman who had dropped off an injured bat to the Toronto Wildlife Centre in early September. But no one stepped forward.

Then the idea of using Facebook was raised. One of Crapper's colleagues sent messages to a number of women on Facebook with names similar to the person they were seeking.

And Facebook delivered.

"Once we tried a few different spellings on Facebook, we had the individual within an hour," Crapper said.

(And no, I will not be making any "Crapper" jokes)

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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