5 Amazing Things Facebook Has Enabled

When Hope Holland kissed her son Jonathan goodbye before sending the three-year-old off on vacation to Mexico with his father in 1999, she had no idea she was saying goodbye to him for 15 years — years she spent believing they had said goodbye for good and hoping against all hope that they'd reunite some day. It was this perhaps unwarranted hope that led Jonathan to post an old family photo on Facebook on the off-chance that somehow his long-lost mother or brother would find it. Against all odds, Holland came across the photo, and after speaking with his mother online and over the phone for months, he finally came home to Campbell, California from his 15-year trip.

"I was suicidal. I was pretty much done. I had no reason to believe I was finding my son. Ever since I found him, my whole world, my whole outlook and direction changed," recently Holland told ABC News. Jonathan, who is no longer in touch with his father but will finish his last year of high school in Mexico, did not remember his mother but already feels connected to her through their common love of spicy food, basketball, and cycling.

Holland was disappointed to receive no support from the abduction agencies she reached out to for financial support; in response to the lack of support, she started a GoFundMe page to cover the costs of bringing Jonathan to the U.S., which has raised about $2,500 of the $4,500 necessary so far. "Hope and Jonathan have reignited their undeniable mother-son connection," the page reads.

People often rip on Facebook for taking up people's time, encouraging vanity, and even making us depressed, but if the social media platform can make even one miracle like this happen, I think it's worth it to keep it around. And, to come to think of it, Facebook has made far more than one amazing thing happen. Here are a few more fantastic feats that have been accomplished on Facebook:

1. Facebook has helped animals get adopted.

Every day, shelters, adoption agencies, and advocacy groups (like the pitbull advocacy group Bruised Not Broken, shown above) are posting photos and descriptions of pets who need homes. And every day, Facebook users are saving pets who could have otherwise died. Sometimes, these animals are awaiting death sentences when viral posts help people rescue them at the last minute from tragic fates at kill shelters.

2. Facebook has brought awareness to sexual assault and harassment.

The Icelandic #‎Outloud movement, whose members change their profile pictures to yellow and orange faces to represent being and knowing sexual assault victims, respectively, started off on a Facebook group for beauty tips, where one member confessed to being a victim and a shocking numbers of others related. Through the hashtags #‎þöggun‬ (“silencing”), ‪#‎konurtala‬ (“women speak”), and ‪#‎outloud‬, people are showing their support and letting survivors know they're not alone.

3. Facebook is giving people a way to demonstrate support for the LGBTQ community.

Since the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, everyday people and celebrities including none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger have used Facebook's Celebrate Pride filter to demonstrate their support. Though not a substitute for donations, volunteering, or legal reform, this act sends the message that users would rather risk being unfriended than appease their homophobic Facebook "friends," and seeing their newsfeeds in rainbow might make LGBT Facebook users feel less alone.

4. Facebook can combat sexism.

The This Is What We Look Like campaign dispels stereotypes about scientists, philosophers, and other people in male-dominated professions by showcasing women who are kicking ass in these fields. This same idea is behind the Women of Silicon Valley page and its corresponding Medium site, which publishes interviews with women making strides in the tech industry. Also in the spirit of calling out sexist B.S., women rallied around the #ThisIsHowWeCoverUpBMFT hashtag to protest policies prohibiting breastfeeding by "covering up" in silly masks.

Needless to say, despite the toll Facebook may take on my productivity, I don't think I'll be deleting my profile any time soon.

Images: Bruised Not Broken, Ósk Gunnlaugsdóttir, Arnold Schwarzenegger, This Is What We Look Like/Facebook