Snopes.com reported on a family tree website that is causing a lot of alarm to the general public as it reveals a lot of personal information.
FamilyTreeNow.com claims to be a family history and genealogy web site but seems to be primarily a site that publishes public information about individuals. In fact, there are a number of other web sites that do the same (Spokeo, Intellius, BeenVerified.com and perhaps a dozen or so others) for a fee but FamilyTreeNow.com provides basic information free of charge.
The website allows anyone to enter a person’s name and then displays whatever personal information the web site knows about people of that name. In many cases, results show personal information along with the names, ages and addresses of people they are related to.
I searched for my own name and found that I wasn’t listed. (Hooray!) Several other men with the same name as mine were listed, however. I then searched for the names of several of my friends and family members. Every one of them was listed, usually with their full names, age, the names of their nearest relatives along with current and past home addresses.
The FamilyTreeNow.com site claims to have “...billions of historical records including census (1790-1940) records, birth records, death records, marriage & divorce records, living people records, and military records.” However, when I searched for several rather common names, all I ever saw displayed was twentieth and twenty-first century records with the majority of the displayed records showing names, addresses, and relatives of living people.
While this is causing a buzz on many social media sites, nobody should be surprised at the information being displayed. All of it appears to be public domain information, whether the folks listed like it or not.
Persons whose information appears on the web site can supposedly “opt out” of having their information displayed, but the site says it may take up to 48 hours to remove the information. I would consider opting out to be a waste of time simply because other web sites also have the same information and future web sites will probably do the same. After all, it is public domain information, anyone can legally create a web site and display the same information. I doubt if you can opt out of all of the current and future web sites in this “business.”.
However, if you do want to opt-out of FamilyTreeNow.com’s listings, here’s how:
- You need to visit familytreenow.com/optout
- Select each profile or variation of your name
- Click the red opt out box for that record on the website.
According to the website, removal can take up to 48 hours to remove.