The Facebook birthday message has practically become an internet trope: A myriad of people you haven’t had a real conversation with in years will come out to type ‘hbd.’
But now Facebook is actually putting your sudden popularity spike to good use by introducing birthday fundraisers. No, it’s not so you can ask money to throw the biggest party ever; instead Facebook allows you to raise money for a non-profit. It’s kind of genius.
Two weeks before your birthday, Facebook will ask if you want to dedicate your birthday to support a cause. You then pick from one of 750,000 non-profits (currently limited to the US) and set a donation goal. Your friends will be notified of your cause on your actual birthday.
Asking someone to support a cause on your birthday is not a new practice, but integrating it directly into Facebook’s platform is a clever move. After all, everybody has a birthday, and raising money for a non-profit is something people might not have thought of without being prompted. It’s simple to set up and makes people feel good about themselves, so I can see many people making use of it.
Even if just a few friends donate, that’s still money coming into non-profits that might not have come otherwise. It’s the type of social media feature that could have a real, positive impact, for a change – and certainly more useful than random birthday messages.
In related news, Facebook is also rolling out birthday videos. The idea is that close friends will have specially made videos showcasing your time together – much like Facebook’s other videos. It’s not clear how Facebook determines what a ‘close friend’ is, but it will at least go a bit beyond an empty ‘hbd.’