NEW YORK — A free genealogy site that lets people track their own family tree is also posing as a privacy risk because it lets everyone search up anyone’s personal information.
FamilyTreeNow.com calls itself “the best genealogy site in the world.” Users can go on and search a first and last name with a state. In a click, a list of people under the name comes up with birth year, associated names and possible relatives. There’s also a list of current and past addresses that anyone can see.
The site, created in 2014, is free and doesn’t require a login to access the private information.
The free access, however, is becoming a privacy issue. It gives people the opportunity to build a family tree, but it also allows others to use the information however they choose, whether its good or bad.
A woman brought the alarming issue to many people’s attention on Twitter. In a series of tweets titled “ONLINE SAFETY THREAD,” Anna Brittain warned people of all the information the site makes public by searching three key words.
“If you’re a part of an online community, ESPECIALLY if you receive threats, take note,” Brittain said.
Brittain told The Washington Post she found the genealogy site after her sister texted her about it. She discovered that her children were listed on the site along with addresses she had 10 years. Brittain immediately opted out of having her record posted on the site.
Just like anyone can search the information, anyone can opt out of having their digital record posted on FamilyTreeNow. Here are the steps:
- Head to FamilyTreeNow.com/optout
- Run a search on yourself by putting in your first and last name and state you live in.
- Find your record (make sure the information matches).
- Click on the red “Opt Out” button.
Within two days the record should be removed from the site.