The Power Of Social Media: 10 Years, 10 Amazing Stories Made Possible By Facebook

by Aaron Kaufman

Tuesday marked the tenth anniversary of Facebook, the social networking site now trafficked by nearly one-sixth of the global population each month.

For most of us, Facebook serves as a momentary distraction, a way to stalk former loves, or as a means to check in on people you don’t care enough about to call.

But over the course of 10 years, Facebook has been the catalyst for some truly wonderful moments.

As we collectively reminisce over 10 years of sharing, poking and liking, let’s also take a look back at 10 remarkable stories that wouldn’t have been possible without Facebook.

1) They Were Friends on Facebook Before They Knew They Were Sisters

Last month, we published an article about two college freshmen whose friendship on Facebook blossomed before they ever met in person. When they arrived at Tulane University at the start of the semester and arranged to meet each other, the girls discovered that they shared a lot in common. And they looked a lot alike. And they were both conceived using a sperm donor…

Still not sure how that subject came up in conversation.

It turns out that the girls who struck up a friendship over social media had more in common than their love of Adam Levine and Gossip Girls (speculation). In fact, the girls discovered that their parents’ sperm donation number was identical, making them half-sisters.

2) Strangers Raise $50,000 on Facebook for a Severely Injured Skydiver

Ben Cornick, 31, was working as a skydiving instructor in Fiji when he suffered life-threatening injuries after slamming into a parked van after a 12,000-foot jump.

Unfortunately, Cornick was skydiving on his day off using his own equipment, meaning the insurance used to cover personal injury while on the job would not cover his extensive medical bills for treatment of his femur, which was broken in three places and an elbow that was “smashed to pieces.”

Cornick’s cousin and fellow skydive instructor, Ricky Davies, decided to set up a Facebook page petitioning the public to help mitigate the cost of Cornick’s numerous operations and procedures.

Without money for an emergency flight to New Zealand, which would alone cost nearly $33,000, Cornick would be unable to receive proper treatment.

Doctors in Fiji, who did not have the necessary equipment for surgery, said that without it, Cornick risked developing an infection in his leg that would require doctors to amputate.

In 16 hours, the page raised nearly $50,000 in contributions from strangers who wanted to help pay for Cornick’s emergency flight from Fiji to New Zealand for surgery, according to his family.

Thanks to selfless contributors from around the world, Cornick made it to New Zealand and is doing well on his recovery.

3) Selfie Posted to Facebook Saves the Life of a Victim of Domestic Abuse

Susann Stacy, from Kentucky, took to Facebook to petition her friends for help after her husband allegedly beat her with a handgun after overhearing her talking to another man on the phone.

Her husband, Donnie Stacy, reportedly tore the phone from the wall as he continued to assault her, preventing his wife from being able to call police to report the attack.

With no reception on her mobile phone, Susann Stacy took to Facebook using her Wifi connection posting a graphic image of her bloodied face with the caption “Please help, anyone.”

One of her Facebook friends noticed the picture appear on her timeline and alerted the Sheriff's department.

Donnie Stacy was arrested and was indicted on assault charges at the Leslie County Detention Center.

4) Facebook Friend Saves Suicidal Teen from Half a World Away

When a 16-year-old boy living in Oxford, England, sent a message announcing his intent to kill himself to a virtual pen pal living 3,400 miles away, she took action that helped save the boy’s life.

“I’m going away to do something I’ve been thinking about for a while then everyone will find out,” said the boy in a message to his friend from Maryland.

The girl alerted her parents to the boy’s threat, who contacted the British Embassy in Washington, DC. They in turn contacted Scotland Yard, who had nothing more than the boy’s name and general location to go on when attempting to locate him.

Officers were dispatched to eight possible locations where the boy might be and after three hours, found him alive but suffering from a drug overdose.

Authorities praised the efforts of the girl and those involved in the case, with Thames Valley Chief Superintendent Brendan O’Dowda saying that “it took up time and effort but it was time and effort absolutely well spent.”

5) A Guitar and Musician Reunited

A Florida man was performing at a St. Petersburg nightclub for about 30 when he noticed that his $700 Fender Stratocaster had gone missing.

“I fell in love with this guitar,” said musician Jeremy Thomas. “It gave me all kinds of creative ideas, and just you know, that was what the shock was, it was like ahhh. It’s irreplaceable.”

The man jumped on Facebook as soon as he returned home to announce that his beloved guitar had been stolen.

A friend who noticed the post began calling pawn shops in the area in an attempt to locate the guitar. Alerted to take note of anyone attempting to sell the Stratocaster, Whipples Pawn Shop called police after an employee reported that a man had attempted to pawn the guitar in question.

The man was arrested and the guitar was returned to Thomas, who was elated to have it back in his possession.

“There’s just a connection a musician has with certain pieces of equipment,” said Thomas. “They are priceless.”

6) Man in Need of a Kidney Finds an Angel

In 2011, Eddie Beatrice underwent a routine operation to repair a torn rotator cuff.

But his recovery turned out to be anything but routine, as Beatrice developed a severe infection that led to septic shock and, ultimately, kidney failure.

Nearing end stage renal failure, Beatrice turned to Facebook in a last-ditch effort to find a kidney donor. There, he found a page run by the Living Kidney Donor Network and began talking to a girl named Kelly Wright.

Wright had hoped to donate her kidney to a friend’s child but was unable to. Instead, she offered her organ to Beatrice. He now refers to Wright as his sister.

“She and her family are now part of my family for life,” said Beatrice.

7) The Facebook Alibi

Who would have thought that a Facebook status declaring “Where’s my pancakes?” would be the evidence needed to keep a man out of jail?

It served that very purpose for 19-year-old Harlem resident Rodney Bradford, who was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of robbery.

His defense lawyer used the time-stamped entry as evidence to prove that Bradford was at his father’s home at the time of the crime.

The district attorney subpoenaed Facebook to verify that the status update had been submitted from his father’s home, which it later confirmed. The charges against Bradford were then dropped.

“This is the first case that I’m aware of in which a Facebook update has been used as alibi evidence,” said John Browning, a lawyer and expert on matters relating to social networking and the law. “We are going to see more of that because of how prevalent social networking has become.”

8) Boy Seeks Family on Facebook after Kidnapping 22 Years Earlier

"My name is Alex. I am looking for my family. I am looking for my mother," said Alex Anfuso in a status update on Facebook.

Alex Anfuso, 28, took to the social media platform in an effort to find his Italian family. Anfuso was allegedly kidnapped 22 years earlier from his home in the outskirts of Rome by a friend of his father’s. The boy was smuggled to Cairo, Egypt, where he was delivered to his father.

Anfuso’s mother was serving prison time for drug-related offenses when the kidnapping occurred.

Alex decided to search for his lost Italian relatives searching for anyone with the last name "Anfuso," and found a TV technician for Italian state broadcaster RAI named Pino Anfuso.

Though the technician was not a relative, he decided to allow Alex Anfuso to share his story on the air.

Alex, who hoped to find his mother, was informed that she had already passed away.

9) Michigan Man Learns that He has a Sister in Missouri

Ed Aho, 43, was floored when he received a friend request from a Missouri woman, Eva Shockey, which bore an accompanying message that read “I know you don’t know me, but my dad was Henry Aho and I would very much like to connect with you and Linda.”

The message continued, “I am very interested in knowing about him and both of you. I will let you decide if that’s what you want.”

Aho was thrown by the message, believing that he and his sister Linda were his father’s only children.

Aho began exchanging messages with Shockey, discovering that his father impregnated a woman he met while stationed in Germany during the Korean War.

Shockey moved to the United States when she was two years old but did not discover that her stepdad was not her biological father until she was 15.

She contacted an aunt in Germany soon after and asked her to send a copy of her birth certificate. From that document, she learned her birth father’s name.

When she Googled his name, she discovered an obituary that listed the names of his children. Using that information, she took to Facebook in an attempt to contact them.

“I’m really happy knowing that my father had other family and now getting a chance to make contact with them,” said Shockey.

10) News Team Uses Facebook to Locate 16 Missing Children

As part of an ongoing investigation, a Florida reporting team was able to locate 16 missing children using nothing but Facebook.

While on the social networking site, the team combed through active profiles, locating and contacting the missing children.

The lead investigator Michael George interviewed many of the children, calling to question how much was being done to find them after they were so easily located on Facebook.

Photo credit: Getty Images