As I first reported on this newsletter's web site on November 2, a new piece of software is now in use that creates thousands of web pages of bogus genealogy information. Now other news organizations are discovering this new problem, and the uproar is getting louder.
The person who created the software says his product can "create thousands of pages of unique . . . content with almost no effort. Neither humans nor search engines will be able to tell whether the content is 'real' or 'generated.' "
Of course, genealogists are protesting loudly. The makers of the Legacy Family Tree software threatened to sue the software creator if he did not remove from his web site instructions about how to download free software from them that could assist the Fake Family program.
Mary Kay Evans, spokeswoman for Ancestry.com, a Utah company that, as part of its service, offers a large database of names, said, "It is so unfortunate that there are predators on the Web who target people interested in their genealogy. Genealogy is such a popular hobby that predators are moving to take advantage of that."
Meanwhile, the creator of FakeFamilies responds by noting that databases by the LDS Church and Ancestry.com also contain some incorrect information submitted by patrons. According to Mr. Harrold, obviously false data creates less threat to genealogy research than errors in data these web sites provide.
You can read my original article at http://eogn.typepad.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2005/11/generating_fake.html
You can read a later article in the Deseret News at http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,635160683,00.html