Online Privacy and Genealogy

As a genealogist or just casually spending time doing family research, you may spend a lot of time on social media in groups or pages related to genealogy. One thing that you may see often are questions regarding privacy in regards to their social media profiles and with their online family trees on whatever service they may be using.

Famicity doesn’t endorse how you should manage your privacy on social media or any genealogy website but we have some things to consider when deciding on how much you may or may not want to share. In the end, it’s entirely up to you.

Family Tree Privacy

There are many reasons why person conducts genealogy research. A person might just be looking for neat little facts and stories about their family while others have more serious reasons such as tracking medical conditions or finding biological family members that have been separated by time or various life events.

The debates go back and forth for why trees should be public and why they should be private. Really, it’s a personal choice.

Here are some reasons why family trees may be set to private.

  • Research isn’t confirmed to be accurate. The owner of a tree may not have confirmed all research so they do not want to share possibly incorrect information with others.
  • Someone is looking for a specific family member and the tree is all over the place trying to place them and it looks like they are not a good researcher.
  • A person may have a lot of pictures and records stored that someone else has taken for they own tree. The person may have attached it to the wrong person or altered research that you’ve confirmed.
  • People may contact DNA matches or those who have taken pictures or records to start a conversation and maybe even make a friend or meet a relative but never receive a response.

How Websites Help You Maintain Privacy

Genealogy

There are many ways to adjust and gauge what you share publically on social media as well as whatever genealogy websites you may use. For example, FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com automatically set living people in a family tree to private.

Ancestry.com provides an option for you to set your family trees to public or private. By default, a tree is set to public until changed to private. Along with this, you can invite other members to be guests on your tree with the option to allow them to see information about living persons.

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, provide options for who can see your posts and profile information. You have options to share with everyone, friends of friends or friends on your list. There are also in-between options as well that you can fine tune. If you want or need to block content from specific people or profiles, they do have a block option to hide your online profile and content completely.