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Hiding living relatives on trees

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


JaneyCanuck Report 18 May 2011 21:44

And yet they are still revealing the full names of users of this website in the same circumstances, as I have been decrying for years -- ever since I finally realized that was waht it was doing to *me*, without ever having notified me or asking me.

There are millions of members here, most of whom are inactive, but who can still be found via tree searches and whose full real names are revealed when a message is sent to them.

(The system has now been changed so account details allow users to opt out of this by selecting "yes" to show username only on messages. This is backwards. It should be opt in to show full/real name.)

That is a whole lot more easily fixed than the people-find problem. Just stop doing it. I guess I need to start yet another thread ...


SylviaInCanada Report 18 May 2011 20:26

However, it is interesting to note that the parent company of the site, Friends Reunited, some years ago did start revealing members real names on site and when sending pms. This was sometime about 2007, when FR was also a subscription site (it's been free since that time).

They used the names that people had used in registering ................ for women, this was often a married name because they had used current credit cards, but most women used their maiden name as board names ........ not necessarily at first as a safety factor, but because FR was set up to reunite school friends.

There was an outcry from many people, but "foreign" members, especially myself, pointed out that this was against the laws in Canada and certain other countries, and could / would lead to prosecution. I think I even threatened to hire a lawyer if they continued to reveal my name.

FR changed its policy, agreeing that names used in registration were confidential ..................... and apologised!

So the GR "company" does know and has been known to pay attention to laws and rules in other countries

after all, a large part of their income is from people in those countries

and if we were all to sue them ..................... well, it wouldn't be good advertising would it?

In my opinion, the same could apply to those whose names and details are posted on GR by people searching fro them



JaneyCanuck Report 18 May 2011 20:06

But since we're talking about the use of this site ... and the disclosure of information about third parties who are not even users of this site and do not even know their personal information is being displayed at this site ... I just thought the site's guidelines and the non-enforcement thereof might be kinda relevant ...

I don't think offences under the Data Protection Act are called "crimes". Really.

Snide reference to my nationality duly noted, even though I had referred to nothing outside the UK.


InspectorGreenPen Report 18 May 2011 19:18

The DPA does not necessarily forbid the reproduction of personal data. So, as long as you comply with the terms of the Act you can reproduce whatever you like.

The GR guidelines are just that. Guidelines. If you ignore then GR can terminate your membership. However, you are unlikely to have committed any crime, at least in England.

Other laws may apply in other countries.


Staffslass Report 18 May 2011 19:00

Just thought I would make my comment.

I am glad I read this thread I have been and altered my settings after checking them, I knew I had opened up the names of the living on my tree but that was after confirmation that we were related and wasn't sure I had changed it, I hadn't but have now.

Also me and my children were on someones tree and showing we didn't want that and emailed GR they removed it for us.


JaneyCanuck Report 18 May 2011 18:45

And I'll repeat -- publishing on the internet is *not* processing for personal use:

(emphasis in original)

Guidance - Copying of Birth, Death, Marriage and Civil Partnership Certificates

2. You are authorised to reproduce the layout of the form in any format including on the web, in films and in print. This authorisation is subject to the following conditions: ...

>> That you comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998. This guidance *does not* authorise you to reproduce the contents of any certificate containing personal data about living individuals;


I suppose the question is: if someone knows a person's exact date of birth, mother's full name, etc., from personal knowledge, rather than from a birth certificate obtained, is this covered? If not, someone can just get the information from another person who got it from a birth certificate, and publish it on the internet ...

In any event, it seems to me that the "guidelines for message board use" at this site
cover the situation (emphases added):

"Please do not include an email address, postal address, phone number or **any other personal information about** yourself or **any other living person** in material that appears on the service"

Most of the posts on the Living Relatives board being in obvious violation of that, I'd say, not to mention family trees.


InspectorGreenPen Report 18 May 2011 18:34

As far as England is concerned, one of the difficulties is that we do not have any privacy laws, as such. The nearest we have is the Data Protection Act 1998, but this is more concerned with ensuring that personal data is used fairly and properly and is managed and held in a secure manner.

When it comes to the activities of personal individuals, then under Section 36 of Part IV,: -

Domestic purposes

Personal data processed by an individual only for the purposes of that individual’s personal, family or household affairs (including recreational purposes) are exempt from the data protection principles and the provisions of Parts II and III.

So, assuming genealogy is for recreational purposes, then the Act will not apply.

Notwithstanding all that, we should all use discretion and common sense re the information regarding others we post or load up to public websites.


SylviaInCanada Report 16 May 2011 19:15

I will continue to hide the names of the few living relatives on my tree,

and continue with not putting on there the much larger number of other living relatives.

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 16 May 2011 18:57

"hiding relatives dead or alive defeats the object" - the object, in your opinion, being?


jax Report 16 May 2011 18:51

Well I doubt whether Elaine will see your comment JC she has not found her way back to her own thread yet .



JaneyCanuck Report 16 May 2011 18:41

How eloquent and useful, elaine. Not.

Never mind what anybody else thinks ...

Never mind what anybody else has said in this thread ...

Never mind that putting living relations in one's tree w/o their consent is unethical ...

elaine has spoken.

Just failed to address anybody else's concerns or interests.


elained Report 16 May 2011 10:16

hiding relatives dead or alive defeats the object


JaneyCanuck Report 14 May 2011 20:27

re public domain -- this may be a good place to mention this again:
(emphasis in original)

Guidance - Copying of Birth, Death, Marriage and Civil Partnership Certificates

2. You are authorised to reproduce the layout of the form in any format including on the web, in films and in print. This authorisation is subject to the following conditions: ...

>> That you comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998. This guidance *does not* authorise you to reproduce the contents of any certificate containing personal data about living individuals;


Darklord Report 14 May 2011 19:32

A Good idea, but probably unworkable and to be honest with all the info out there in the public domain!

Well lets say I took a punt on a relative via Ancestry and, got lucky that time in contacting them.

So unless you stop all access to public records then I cannot see how it could work.




SylviaInCanada Report 14 May 2011 05:34

BUT "hidden" names do show up if you do a Search Trees, along with the name of the tree owner, so you can contact the owner.

BTW ................. I was doing a search on Google the other week, and discovered that GR has been rated as having one of the best tree software programs:-

"Once you have created your free account, you have unlimited access to the free family tree software hosted by the site. This is one of the best features of the site, offering the opportunity to create a professional, flexible family tree with surprising ease."

so I think a lot of people may be joining GR as a free member solely as a place to start and develop their own trees, with no intention of sharing

I know that my first intention when I started my tree on here was not to share ................ I just wanted to get parts of it together in one place

In fact, only a very small part of my tree is on here ............... and I do NOT open my tree to anyone. I will share information from it with people after I have established that there is a genuine connection between us.



grannyfranny Report 13 May 2011 22:19

If you tick 'hide living relatives', and don't enter a death date, they remain hidden for 120 years.


JaneyCanuck Report 13 May 2011 19:43

By the way, Lana Gene's post -- she hasn't bothered to reply to mine or alter hers -- is a good example.

I was able to find all the people she was talking about -- the names of the adults and children -- showing as in her tree here at GR. So her stories about them were not anonymous; I and anybody else with the least experience at this can find that information with a few clicks of a mouse. Do all those people want their laundry aired here? (Including children who are given no say in it.) I don't know, but I'd doubt it. The fact that all the names are in her tree meant that she did it, completely non-anonymously, though.


JaneyCanuck Report 13 May 2011 19:37

John ...

People on trees are *only* hidden from someone viewing the tree itself -- which they can do *only* with the permission of the tree owner.

*No* names in trees are hidden from tree searches, which is what you are talking about -- "find common relatives".

"Tree search" means the search performed using the "Search trees" button in the menu up top; it doesn't mean a search of some individual's family tree.

Death dates in trees don't affect the results of tree searches one iota. If someone has a newborn baby in their tree, that baby will show up on a tree search, even if "blocked" from anyone viewing the tree itself.

Maybe if you had read through the thread it would have helped you understand this.

In any event, are people born 112 years ago, with no death date, actually classed as "living" in trees?

You ask:

"I started my Tree to FIND RELATIVES, so why hide them?"

Well, maybe because you don't actually have their permission to put their personal information in your family tree at this site -- where it can be found by anyone with an internet connection?

But once again, this has Nothing To Do with the "hide living relatives" function in trees.

It is your choice to put these people in your tree at all, without their consent, that is the problem here. If any of them or their family finds that you have done this, they could in fact require that the site management remove them from your tree.

Mrs John

Mrs John Report 13 May 2011 19:10

If someone was born in 1898 they are probably deceased, but if you don't know when they died and haven't entered it here they will be classed as LIVING, so will be hidden if you chose that option. It makes it impossible to find common relatives when so much data is blocked. I don't put personal data in my tree for the current generation, but leave it open otherwise. I started my Tree to FIND RELATIVES, so why hide them?


JaneyCanuck Report 9 May 2011 15:25

Not everyone puts a family tree on this site for the benefit of some third party.

Some people use the facility here for their own reference.

You use it for your purposes, Lana Gene, others will use it for theirs.

Being open to contacts from people with shared *ancestors* does not call for putting personal details about living people in a tree here, and does not mean that one wants those details to be disclosed to third parties. Such info can be exchanged privately if a relationship through shared ancestors is found, and if one wishes to do that.

I would never do it if I thought the other person was going to turn around and put that information in a family tree and allow it to be seen by others.

It simply is not up to me to give out personal details about people who happen to be related to me.

For your info, Lana Gene, since you have given such a lot of personal information about your family in your post: when I click on your username I see your full real name. Five seconds of searching gives me your sisters' names, and the names and birth details of a number of young children and others.

Do you really think they all wanted you giving out that information about their private lives on the internet in such an identifiable way?

If you go to My Account you can select "yes" so that your username is the name on your messages (the name that shows when we click on your username). I strongly advise doing that.