Monday, December 30, 2013

Facebook and Ancestry.com -- an interesting combination

I recently looked at a upgraded Ancestry.com app on my iPad and was surprised to see that the app asked for a link to Facebook.com. I decided to go for it and soon had my Ancestry.com family tree populated with people from my Facebook account. What I first noticed were the photos. Some of them were not exactly what I would want to include in my own family history. But then I began to notice that the relationships imputed by Ancestry.com were very strange. Very few of the relationship were at all accurate. I began to wonder what on earth this was supposed to accomplish?

Anyway, I then began to think about all the comments I have had over the past few years about PRIVACY and the hand-wringing over living people appearing in family trees. Believe me, in about 30 seconds Ancestry.com used Facebook to automatically add more than thirty living people to my online family tree. The only thing missing was Social Security Numbers. I am still in the mode of trying to figure out if there is anything I need to do about this situation?

I found living people that I know would be more than uncomfortable if they realized that this one tool has just put their entire family (with some random omissions) online for the world to see. One thought that does occur to me is that all the time people have spent doing descendancy studies for surname books could be immensely aided by this tool but privacy is really out the window.

If you think about this for a minute. Most of those people voluntarily put themselves on Facebook.com and then Ancestry.com has all of the current U.S. Public Records Index to fill in any missing information about the living people. What is interesting is the number of details that can or could be added from Facebook.com. I also thought it was interesting if the people who are so anxious to share their daily lives on Facebook.com understand the consequences of their posts?

Think about it.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you James, I will be sure not to do that.

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  2. I won't be doing that, either, but probably for different reasons. First, I have been quite reluctant to share more than minimum information with Facebook. I have almost no relationships, no contact data, no location, job or school data, etc. I have a limited number of Friends (~200) unlike some who Friend everyone they meet. Second, there are a significant number of my family members that are not Facebook Friends. Third, I try to limit the interconnections between social networks. And I'm treating Ancestry as a social network that happens to have some genealogy tools included.

    I admit to being somewhat curious as to what links Ancestry might find given the conditions stated above, but not enough to actually do this.

    In regards to the privacy issue, I'm starting to come around to the idea that Privacy as we knew it is gone forever, and that anything we do to reduce the ability of government or private surveillance will merely drive it further underground where it will be harder to find, and harder to find out what they are doing with the collected data. The best we'll be able to do is enact laws making those collection activities transparent so we can see what they do. So we can 'watch the watchers', so to speak.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. I don't think most people are aware of the extent of the information being accumulated on nearly everyone online.

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  3. JOKE doing the rounds in Oz at the moment - "Did you know that YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are amalgamating? New service will be called - YouTwitFace" ...

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