Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, August 8, 2020

You do not need to erase your DNA information from Ancestry


If you don't have time to read this post, you might want to skip to the end of the post and at least read the last two paragraphs.

In a recent article, James Gelinas of cautioned users of who have taken the DNA Test to delete their files. See "If you used this ancestry site, remove your data now." This article appears on the popular computer tech website, Kim Komando

My question is why would you want to do that? The article's recommendation is based on the fact that a majority interest in was purchased by "The Blackstone Group" actually, Blackstone Capital Partners VIII. See my post entitled, " selling 75% interest to Blackstone for $4.7 billion." Again my question is why would you want to erase your DNA testing results and matches from Ancestry?

The Komando article speculates as follows: boasts more than 3 million paying customers from around the world, and the DNA data it manages is highly valuable to anyone who would be interested in selling it to, say, pharmaceutical companies or medical data firms. It’s almost a no-brainer that a big hedge-fund company would want a slice of the pie. 
The clincher seems to be that:
Of course, if you submitted DNA information to, this also means your data is at risk of being sold or traded.
Duh! That was always the case. In fact, the DNA part of Ancestry is handled by a subsidiary of Ancestry LLC doing business as AncestryDNA. Here is the summary from Wikipedia:
AncestryDNA is a subsidiary of Ancestry LLC. AncestryDNA offers a direct-to-consumer genealogical DNA test. Consumers provide a sample of their DNA to the company for analysis. AncestryDNA then uses DNA sequences to infer family relationships with other Ancestry DNA users and to provide what it calls an "ethnicity estimate". Previously, also offered paternal Y-chromosome DNA and maternal mitochondrial DNA tests, but those were discontinued in June 2014. The company describes the technical process of testing in a scientific white paper. In July 2020, the company claimed that their database contained 18<> million completed DNA kits bought by customers.

Ancestry DNA is commonly used for donor conceived persons to find their biological siblings and in some cases their sperm or egg donor.

The testing itself is performed by Quest Diagnostics.
If you read the agreement or read the Terms and Conditions at the bottom of the website pages and provided to you when you purchased your DNA test kit from AncestryDNA, you would already know the following (See
7.  What Information Do We Share, when Do We Share It and Who are the Recipients?

Ancestry does not share your individual Personal Information (including your Genetic Information) with third-parties except as described in this Privacy Statement or with your additional consent. We do not voluntarily share your information with law enforcement. Also, we will not share your Genetic Information with insurance companies, employers, or third-party marketers without your express consent.

NOTE: Ancestry does not sell your Personal Information.

Ancestry may share the following categories of Personal Information about you or your use of the Services with the types of entities set forth in this section for business purposes (as defined by applicable law), or as required by applicable law:

Identifiers (such as name, address, email address); Account Information (such as shipping address); Credit Card/Payment Information; Computer or Mobile Device Information; Audio and Visual information (such as recordings of calls with Ancestry Member Services or information voluntarily shared when doing consumer insights research); Inference data about you; Other Protected Classifications (such as gender and marital status); Health Information as well as Biological, Physiological, or Behavioral Traits and anything else mentioned in the table below.
This quote is part of a rather extensive document but it is interesting reading. Also, the Terms and Conditions tells you how to delete your personal information if you wish to do so. 

One very important part of this process that the Kim Komando article apparently ignores is that can and should download all your DNA data before deleting the file on Hmm. Why would you want to delete your own DNA information? Read the Terms and Conditions carefully and you will see that the guidance given by the Kim Komando website was ill-conceived, misleading, and would end up with you losing your own DNA data that you paid for. 

Good Luck if you followed the article's instructions before doing your own research!

Plagues, Pandemics and Genealogy: A Return Visit


In 2018 and 2019, I wrote a couple of blog posts about plagues and genealogy. Little did I know that just a short time later, I would be living through a major, worldwide pandemic. Such events have both short term and long term effects on genealogically significant records and thereby on genealogical research. 

When I was doing a special project digitizing old burial records beginning in the 1800s at the Mesa, Arizona City Cemetery, I became painfully aware of the effect of disease on the mortality rate, especially of young children. These records graphically illustrated the danger of the then lethal childhood diseases. So many of the children under the age of 5 were dying and I became so emotional about the records, that I had to stop reading the individual records when I saw that child had died. 

When you become involved in genealogical research, almost immediately you find the reality that mortality rates vary over time. Death rates are usually measured as the number of deaths per a fixed number of people such as "deaths per 1000 people" or as is currently being used with the COVID-19 pandemic, "deaths per 1 million of population." For example in the United States, from 1950 to 2020 the death rate per 1000 has varied from a high of 9.649 per 1000 in 1950 to a low of 8.131 in 2009 and the projected death rate in 2020 is expected to be 8.880. See "U.S. Death Rate 1950-2020." The same website has a list of the current death rates by country for 2020 and Latvia is at the top of the list with a death rate of 14.740 and Qatar is at the bottom with a death rate of 1.298 per 1000 of population. 

How does a pandemic affect the overall death rate? Quoting from an article entitled, "A pandemic primer on excess mortality statistics and their comparability across countries, by Janine Aron and John Muellbauer (Institute for New Economic Thinking, and Nuffield College, University of Oxford), alongside Charlie Giattino and Hannah Ritchie (Our World in Data, University of Oxford).
Excess mortality data avoid miscounting deaths from the under-reporting of Covid-19-related deaths and other health conditions left untreated. Excess mortality is defined as actual deaths from all causes, minus ‘normal’ deaths. 

In other words, you can see the effect of the pandemic independent of any inaccurately reported data due to politics or other factors. For the United States, these statistics, the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods, is maintained by the Center for Disease Control or CDC. As a side note, you may be able to understand why the CDC has become a lightning rod for politicians. Do your own research. You can see the extensive charts and supporting data on the CDC webpage, "Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19." Also, in case you are wondering, the United States presently (as of the date of this post) has the highest number of deaths per 1 million of the population of any country in the world although this figure is reported deaths and does not take into account under-reporting by some countries and even under-reporting in the United States. 

As we, as genealogists, go back further into the past, we will see that mortality rates increase particularly among infants and young children but discovering the excess death rate caused by any one particular disease becomes less possible. Estimates from the past suggest that about half of all the children born before 1900. The global youth mortality rate in 1950 was 27%. The global infant mortality rate in 1950 was 16%. Currently, the youth rate is about 4.6% and the infant mortality rate is about 2.9%. Of course, some countries have mortality rates much higher than the average. See 

Our World in Data. “Mortality in the Past – around Half Died as Children.” Accessed August 8, 2020.

Do your own research if you disagree. 

What does this mean for genealogists? The obvious fact is that many people died without being recorded and that the overall mortality rate increased during plagues and pandemics. If people seem to disappear from a genealogical record, it is probable that they died and their deaths may not have been recorded. Learn about the history of your ancestors with reference to plagues and pandemics. Do your own research. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Evidence and Proof: Genealogical or Legal?


Over the past few years, I have written a number of posts about the difference between legal notions of evidence as expressed by the Federal Rules of Evidence and the reality of drawing conclusions from historical records and documents. Genealogical research has been overlayed for many years by a succession of genealogists/lawyers that have heavily influenced genealogical terminology and thinking about the way research is done and the methodology of coming to conclusions. For example, one influential book is as follows:
Stevenson, Noel C. 1989. Genealogical evidence: a guide to the standard of proof relating to pedigrees, ancestry, heirship and family history. Laguna Hills, Calif: Aegean Park Press.
The influence legal terminology has become so pervasive in current genealogical writings that the use of legal terminology passes as the norm without comment on its inapplicability to adequately characterize historical/genealogical research methodology and terminology. 

Let me begin with a few illustrations of the issue of using legal terminology and definitions in the realm of genealogical research. I will start with a U.S. Federal Census Record from 1880. 

But before I get into asking a number of questions about this commonly used type of historical record, I need to discuss some legal terms that are commonly applied to historical documents by some genealogists. First of all the U.S. Federal Rules of Evidence apply to proceedings in the U.S. Federal Court system. Every state in the United States has its own system and its own rules of evidence and of course, these rules in both the Federal and local state courts have rules that differ from those of any other country around the world. I will use only the Federal Rules in order to simplify this example. The first question is based on the Federal Rules of Evidence, how would the Federal Courts view the submission of a census record in a trial? As with almost anything having to do with Courts, the Rules of Evidence are complex and require, at least, one or more specialized, required, classes in a three-year law school curriculum. 

The problem with even asking such a question is that there is no quick and easy answer. The Rules of Evidence are just that: rules. They are like the rules of a very complex game that is played between two or more adversaries with a judge as a moderator and decision-maker. As a participant in a court case, you do not get to set the rules of procedure or modify them to accommodate special circumstances. Likewise, you don't ever get to decide if your position about the facts is right or wrong. The judge always decides the case and there are no judges in genealogy. 

The first and probably most misunderstood of the evidentiary terms is "hearsay" which refers to repeating the oral statements of a witness not in court. Of course, genealogists use hearsay evidence almost continually by using quotes and stories from ancestral sources. In court, the issue is whether or not the judge or jury can use "hearsay" testimony and the rules are specific about when and how the testimony can be used. See Rule 803, Federal Rules of Evidence. In the world of genealogy, the concept of hearsay is usually expressed in terms of primary sources, secondary sources, and when referring to "evidence" as direct and indirect. The concept is that the reliability of the "evidence" is contingent on the time and manner in which the statement was made or the document was created. During a trial, almost all testimony that is judged to be hearsay is excluded from consideration by the judge or jury unless the statements fall within the specifically defined exceptions set forth in Rule 803. Obviously, there is no such rule in genealogy and every statement or writing made by anyone under any circumstances may be and usually is considered by a researcher. 

Now we get to the census record in the screenshot above. Would this document be admissible in court to prove the birth date of any of the people listed? Is there any information on this document that would be admissible? What would an attorney proposing to use this document have to say or do to render this document admissible? 

Well, this document was written in 1880 and all of the people who either compiled this document or are listed on this census page are now dead and so they are unavailable to testify in court about the way the document was compiled or anything about the accuracy of the content. The document is clearly hearsay under the Rules of Evidence since the census enumerator was recording what people said. Does the document fall into the Public Records exception of Rule 803? Here is that section:
(8) Public Records. A record or statement of a public office if:
(A) it sets out:
(i) the office’s activities;
(ii) a matter observed while under a legal duty to report, but not including, in a criminal case, a matter observed by law-enforcement personnel; or
(iii) in a civil case or against the government in a
criminal case, factual findings from a legally authorized investigation; and
(B) the opponent does not show that the source of information or other circumstances indicate a lack of trustworthiness.

By the way, there are several exceptions in Rule 803 for documents relating to family history. OK, now in order to come to some conclusion in a reasonable period of time, I have to say that a U.S. Census record does not fall within any of the exceptions to the Hearsay Rule as to the accuracy of the information recorded about the people listed. Without some additional documentation or a family history document, the census record, by itself, is not self-proving and would not be admissible. 

Now, what about the genealogical direct and indirect evidence rule, primary vs. secondary, and what about original vs. a copy? How reliable is a U.S. Federal Census record? Unfortunately, the patina of legality does not add anything to the accuracy of the document. The fact that is was compiled by someone who worked for the U.S. government does not add anything at all to accuracy either. The real evaluation of this record is that it is inherently unreliable. 

So what does looking at a document using all of the legalese do for a researcher? Not much, if anything. In fact, it is extremely unusual if we can identify the "informant" for the information in a census record, i.e. the person who gave the information to the enumerator. 

Do I use the information in a U.S. Census document without going through all this quasi-legal stuff about it reliability? Of course, I do. However, I do not rely entirely on any one record. So how does historical or genealogical research relate to what goes on in court? Not at all. You are the judge and jury. You decide what is and what is not reliable. You determine was is and what is not evidence and unless you happen to be an attorney, you probably have not concepts of hearsay, hearsay exceptions, or all the other legal issues involved in proving a legal case. It is also unlikely that you think much about primary vs. secondary or all the other distinctions made in the genealogical literature. 

So how do we know we are "right?" The key here is all genealogical (historical) conclusions are tentative and subject to finding additional information. What did we think about who we were related to before DNA tests became readily available? DNA testing is a good example of a development that overturn even the most certain opinions and conclusions. 

Why do I keep explaining my opinion on this subject? Because I keep seeing people trying to categorize historical records using a quasi-legal methodology that is really meaningless. I can stare at that census record image above for days and analyze it to death but the information still remains recorded as it was recorded and the next document that comes along my completely contradict the information and challenge my conclusions. 

Now, you say, what about comparing two documents? Hmm. Now we are back to the beginning of the whole issue. If the two documents agree then they reinforce our opinion. If they disagree, we are back to the beginning. Do we work on the premise of the majority rule? Not if all the documents come from the same source. For example, I often see several marriage records about the same married couple. But, ultimately all of the records unless made for different reasons all report the same event. OK, I know all about banns, marriage bonds, etc. and those are different records which may or may not agree. But just because a record was copied does not add to its accuracy. 

I could go on indefinitely but the conclusion is this: using legalese and making distinctions about the origin of documents does not add to their accuracy. A court proceeding is not the same as historical or genealogical research. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020 selling 75% interest to Blackstone for $4.7 billion is selling a 75% interest in the company to Blackstone Group. Inc. Quoting from dated August 5, 2020, in an article entitled "Blackstone to acquire for $4.7 billion;"
The deal is Blackstone’s first acquisition out of Blackstone Capital Partners VIII, the largest-ever private equity fund that raised $26 billion from investors last year. ... The acquisition’s price tag represents a significant jump to’s valuation from four years ago, when Silver Lake and GIC invested in the Lehi, Utah-based company at a $2.6 billion valuation. 
 In another article  entitled, "Blackstone Group is Buying Ancestry for $4.7B," added further details as follows:
Blackstone (ticker: BX) said Wednesday it was buying Ancestry in a deal valued at $4.7 billion. Blackstone will have roughly 75% of Ancestry, while GIC—the sovereign-wealth fund once known as the Government of Singapore Investment Corp.—will have 25%, Barron’s has learned. Bank of America (BAC) and Credit Suisse are providing debt financing.
 In many of the online articles about this deal, is characterized as follows, quoting from the article,
Ancestry uses information found in historical records and family trees to help its more than 3 million subscribers discover their family history. The company also uses DNA tests to give users more data about their family tree and recent genetic ethnicity. The Lehi, Utah, company operates in more than 30 countries. It produces over $1 billion in annual revenue.
As genealogists, many of us are involved with searching for records, maintaining a family tree, and relying on DNA date supplied by Ancestry.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Genealogical Research: How far back in time can you go?

It has been quite a while since I posted this video to the Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube Channel. The video has had about 4,000+ views but the subject of extending genealogies back into the distant past keeps coming up regularly from people I attempt to help. I recently had yet another plea for help, this time the issue didn't go back to Adam but it did go back into the early 1700s. Depending on your knowledge of history, 1700 C.E. either seems like a long time ago or just a few years in the past. Writing about the reality of the effect of time on record availability is apparently something that needs some repetition. 

There are two historical factors that all genealogists (and everyone else in the world) are subject to. The first is the loss of records over time. The second is the fact that records of individual people except for royalty and other important individuals, were not kept very far into the past. 

Of course, I need to give a few examples. 

Let's start with the Baby State, Arizona. For many years, Arizona was the last state admitted to the United States of America on February 14, 1912, and that earned it the name of the Baby State. Then Alaska was admitted on January 3, 1959, followed by Hawaii on August 21, 1959. What does this mean for genealogists? Pretty obvious that before these dates, there are no state records available for these states. Before statehood, these geographic areas were territories. OK, so when were the territories organized?
Arizona was organized on February 24, 1863. Alaska Territory was organized on August 24, 1912. Alaska was previously the Department of Alaska from 1868 to 1884 and the District of Alaska from 1884 to 1912. Hawaii had a completely different history. The Territory of Hawaii was officially organized on April 30, 1900, and lasted until statehood. Hawaii was a kingdom from about 1795 until 1874. Beginning in 1893, the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii began, and in 1898 Hawaii was annexed by the United States. 

Now, as a genealogist, you might think this was just some interesting history but every one of those dates resulted in significant changes in the type and quality of records being kept and the possibility that any of those records survived to the present time. As I have written in several posts, as genealogists, we have to deal with these realities.

Carrying on the using Arizona as an example. There is still a more complicated history. The first Europeans to enter what is now Arizona occurred back in 1539 but unless your ancestors were from Arizona and spoke Spanish, it is only in 1848 when the United States acquired (took) that part of Mexico that any significant English speaking settlements began. My ancestors got to Arizona beginning in 1877. 

Again, these dates are all significant markers of when documents of any kind might have been created in the area we now call the State of Arizona. 

The point of these examples is that no matter where you go on the face of the earth, the availability of records is going to be determined by the time when the first records were created. 

Jumping over to England. The earliest English parish registers (with a few rare exceptions) date from 1538 when through the work done by Thomas Crowell, King Henry VIII issued a mandate requiring the parishes to begin keeping records. Of course, even though the parishes began keeping some records at that time, it took a while before Queen Elizabeth made the all registers mandatory in 1558. By the way, it wasn't until 1733 that Latin was discontinued in parish records. See the FamilySearch Research Wiki, History of Parish Registers in England.

Every recordset or collection has a beginning date. The two rules I mentioned above mean that the ability of any genealogical researcher to continue any given ancestral line eventually decreases to zero. From that point on any ancestral lines that extend beyond the practical point of availability of records is pure fantasy. 

So, pick a state or country. Say, Tennesee. When could you reasonably expect to find genealogically significant records in what is now Tennessee? Well, that depends on what you consider to be genealogically significant. Europeans reached the area we now call Tennessee as early as 1540 when the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto entered the area. The French were the first settlers but the British began expanding into Tennessee in 1673 but the first British forts were not built until 1756. See Tennessee4me, European Contact. So if you think your ancestors came from Tennessee, you probably need to determine if they spoke Spanish, French, or English and then decide when they first arrived and then decide what records could possibly have been kept at that time. 

To repeat, every place on the face of the earth has the same temporal limitations. You can't really argue with history. If you are researching back in time and feel like you have hit a "brick wall" you may really have hit the end of the records sets you need to find your ancestors in any given location. Don't give up, just realize that the answer lies in history not repeated record searches. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Copyright, Plagiarism, Fair Use, and the Public Domain

When we refer to the "law" in the United States, we are really speaking about two completely different subjects. There are statutes, regulations, and rules passed by governmental and administrative entities at all levels from municipal governments to the United States House of Representatives and the Senate. There are thousands of these governmental entities and each has its own set of rules, regulations, and statutes.

What many people fail to understand about the "law" in the United States is that we follow British Common Law. That means that the rulings of the courts of record also become the "law of the land." Of course, laws are only laws until the entity that created the law decides to change it. The laws you are subject to depend on where you happen to be located. For example, if you are driving across the country, every time the speed limit changes, you are likely subject to a different set of laws. However, there are some national laws that apply to everyone in the country. One of these is the law of copyright. 

Except, there is one big issue with copyright law. There are statutes but there is also a large number (more than you can imagine) of court rulings so predicting what will happen in any copyright lawsuit is very difficult. All copyright lawsuits must be filed in the United States District Courts. You cannot file a copyright suit in your local state or county court. For this reason alone, copyright lawsuits are very expensive for both sides. There is a possibility of receiving statutory damages and in some cases attorneys' fees but there is always the possibility that neither side in a copyright lawsuit actually benefits monetarily from the action. 

Copyright law is very complicated and in many instances, it is highly unrealistic. Because of the cost of filing a legal action on a copyright claim, the entities that usually get involved are large business entities. For a long time, I was monitoring all of the Federal Court cases to see if any lawsuits dealt with genealogists or genealogical interests. There were never very many. An easy way to search U.S. case law is to use Google Scholar ( The latest cases deal with using genealogical DNA for criminal investigation and prosecutions. If you want to read a very long discussion about the use of DNA testing in criminal cases, see Maryland v. King

Now, genealogists are mostly researchers but they do make copies of documents and I routinely get questions about possible copyright violations. All I can really answer is that the outcome of any dispute or possible dispute depends on the precise facts of every case. For many years, Cornell University has published an extremely helpful summary of the current copyright law and any changes in a concise format that helps everyone understand the restrictions. Here is a link to the chart. 

You might also want to see all of the resources on the U.S. Copyright Office website:

Now, what about plagiarism? Plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own. It is not illegal per se but it may violate a copyright. The nature of genealogy invites plagiarism but copying information from a family tree does not constitute plagiarism. A more precise definition would be an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work. See

It has long been held that "a pedigree, descendant chart, GEDCOM, or any other standard genealogy form or format that contains nothing but facts is not copyright protected. There is no originality of selection or arrangement and facts can't be copyrighted. Plagiarism and copyright are not the same." See Copyright Fundamentals for Genealogy. Here are some online posts that discuss the issue of plagiarism with links to additional articles.
That's probably enough to get you started. Just remember to, at the very least, give credit when credit is due. Cite your sources every time. 

What about Fair Use and the Public Domain?

Fair use is a legal quagmire. Here is the definition of "fair use" from the U.S. Copyright Office article, "More Information on Fair Use."
Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.
  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work
Finally, public domain. The document I linked above from Cornell University has the best explanation about what is and what is not in the public domain but you always need to realize that every country of the world that has a copyright law (not all do) has a different definition of public domain. 

The most common question I get asked is whether or not an ancestor's journal or diary is copyright protected. Again, the guidelines are outlined on the Cornell University Library documents. Here is the link again: Cornell University Library, Copyright Information Center. The answer is always the same: it depends. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Free Individual Genealogical Training and Support

The Brigham Young University Family History Library has been closed to patrons since March 2020 because of the pandemic. However, we still have over 140 volunteer missionaries that are trained and willing to provide online help to potential patrons from around the world. During the past few weeks, the Library staff has been organizing a pool of missionaries to provide online help. 

If you have a question or need some assistance with your genealogical research, you can contact the Library during its normal hours of operation and you will be referred to one of the missionaries who will then contact you to set up a convenient way to communicate. We can support Zoom meetings and many other venues. You will need to provide contact information such as an email address that you actually look at, a phone number to call, or some other method of contact. 

We have a huge reservoir of experience and support. Please consider using this great opportunity to have the help and support that you need free of any charge or obligation. 

Also, remember that the BYU Family History Library has an active YouTube Channel with new instructional videos being posted weekly. We are also offering free Sunday webinars every Sunday. Here are all the links to the Library. Look at these links for more information and schedules

The main website and phone number 801-422-6200

Library contact information

Link to the free classes and webinars

Library missionary coordinators

YouTube Channel for almost 500 videos

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Do Your Own Research!

I have become more and more disturbed lately by the easily debunked drivel that is posted on social networking websites. People that I have known for many years have posted memes and articles that are easily shown to be false and tragically misleading. Many of these people have been in my genealogical community circles for a considerable time. I generally avoid as much political and social controversy as I can but some issues lately have reached a level that I can no longer remain totally silent. 

Unfortunately, I find the same lack of research and awareness of obviously false information to be endemic in online family trees. One case recently involved a posting of a father in a family when it was obvious that the dates for the birth and death of the father meant he was born after the child died. When I removed the father from the family and sent a note to the user who posted the information explaining the problem. I received no response except to have the same information posted again. This is a common occurrence. 

You may be aware that I post my blog articles on social media. Sometimes, I spend a few minutes scanning the posts for contributions from my own children and past friends and a few relatives. I usually get so upset after a few minutes, I quit looking. I often wonder if some of the people who post on Facebook were the same people I used to know in person. I guess I didn't know them very well. It rather strange to me that my genealogist friends who would immediately detect an inaccurate family issue on the Family Tree, cannot seem to do the modicum of research necessary to identify a blatantly false "news" article and often, without stating any basis at all for their opinion, they parrot a "fake news" response to a fact-based article. 

Fortunately, those of us who are online can readily determine the accuracy of almost all of the "conspiracy theories" and real fake news stories if we are willing to spend some time researching the issues. Sometimes, those posting blatantly inaccurate information on social networking websites are offended when those of us willing to do some research try to respond online. Unfortunately, the same thing also happens regularly with information in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

Some might say we are obsessive about accuracy and researching original source information but that goes with the territory of working with genealogical information especially when the information in an online family tree such as the FamilySearch Family Tree is a conglomeration of over a hundred years of valid research sprinkled with unsupported traditions, intentional fabrications, and mostly inadvertent inaccuracy. Most of these issues would disappear except for two dominant practices: entering information without reading all of the sources and viewing all of the memories and adding information without any source at all. These could be phrased as follows for social networking: sharing information without reading the item and then verifying the claims (looking at the sources) and simply sharing a meme or article without thinking about what it actually claims and verifying the information. 

Now the question. Which of these dominant practices are you seeing on family trees or social media or are you seeing both?