In the genealogy, world privacy should be one of our utmost concerns, especially that of our living family and selves. Recently, a post has been circulating the genealogical social media circles about a particular website. by the name of FamilyTreeNow.
The text of the message reads:
“I’m sharing this because the amount of information available to anyone through a basic search on FamilytreeNow is scary. I checked it out for myself and my family, and it was true. This article gives information on how to opt-out of having your information available.”
This particular genealogical website has been catching flak by mining other public websites for information not only about deceased individuals, but those still living. In fact, when I went to check on my name, it came up with my married and maiden name and address’s I’ve resided in.
This was a huge RED flag for me so I decided to do a little more digging. The company currently sits at a C+ on the Better Business Bureau’s website with 15 registered complaints against the company. This business has only been open for three short years and the complaints range mostly along the lines of the social media post being shared in genealogical circles.
What can we do?
FIRST, of all register your complaints with the Better Business Bureau. The more we can let business accreditation websites know of our issues, the more this issue can be brought to light, the more we can discuss as genealogists what privacy means.
SECOND. Use the websites opt-out features and to remove your information for no charge. Remember, anytime you use a website to check their terms and conditions, as many of them include clauses that will allow them to release public information for companies to mine. This is a great article by Ken Gagne, former editor of ComputerWorld, that explains how to get your information off of these aggregator type websites. If you are looking for directions specifically for FamilyTreeNow, click here for and article by Christine Otten.
THIRD. Be more aware of these issues as you move forward in your genealogical research. Be sure to be respectful of the privacy of living individuals as you more forward.