How To Opt Out Of The FamilyTreeNow.com Genealogy Site & Protect Your Personal Information
If you’re a stickler for checking your Facebook privacy settings and keeping your digital footprint small, you'll probably want to learn how to opt out of FamilyTreeNow.com. The public information aggregator has been going viral recently; the service can bring up a sizable amount of your personal information free of charge, and the quick and easy nature of the searches has many in the online community worried about safety. The site, which markets itself as a free genealogy resource, allows users to look up any person by first and last name — no sign-up or registration required. It's understandable that you might want to opt out of a simple search that can reveal your age, year of birth, “associates” and immediate family members, and current and past addresses.
As The Washington Post states, all the information on FamilyTreeNow.com comes largely from public records, so there's nothing inherently nefarious about the site. However, in the age of internet trolls and increasing online harassment, many are worried that the information from these detailed public profiles could be used to target individuals such as women, minority groups, police officers, and public figures. Young adult author Anna Brittain alerted social media to the unsettling nature of the site on Tuesday, Jan. 10., and it has also received mentions on some law enforcement officer safety Facebook pages.
When I ran a search of myself, the only information listed in my profile was my name, birth year and age. Somewhat bizarrely, though, my sophomore year college dorm address was listed as my current residence. But while my profile was relatively empty, I got something of a shock when I typed a family member's name into the search. Not only did the site list her age and birth year, but also every address where she had lived (including where I had grown up) as well as an accurate current address. A section titled “possible relatives” listed all her living relatives — including me and my sibling. I immediately called my mom and walked her through how to opt out.
If you too are concerned about having personal information so easily accessible, definitely take a moment and follow these quick steps on how to opt out of the search.
1. Go To FamilyTreeNow.com
To find your public profile, first go to the site familytreenow.com.
2. Click On The Search Option
Do not use the quick search option you first see on the homepage under "Start Your Journey." Instead, click on the blue "Search" option at the top of the screen between "Home" and "My Tree."
3. Run A Search Of Yourself
Clicking on the "Search" option will bring you to a new page asking for information. Since the spelling of my name is fairly uncommon, I simply had to enter my first and last name to find my record. If you have a more popular name, you can enter your location or birth year to bring up a more refined search. A name such as "Jane Smith" brings up 365 records, so it may take some time to find your own.
4. Confirm Your Record Details
Once you have scrolled through all the names and ages, and found a listing that matches your personal details, select the green "View Details" button. Clicking this will bring you to FamilyTreeNow's complete list of public information, including addresses, "associates," and family members. Check to make sure that the information matches your own, and is not that of someone of the same name.
5. Click The Red 'Opt Out' Button
Once you have selected the correct record, click the red "Opt Out This Record" button. The record will immediately vanish from your view.
6. Wait 48 Hours For Your Details To Be Blocked
It can take up to 48 hours to process the request, so be patient. Log on two days later, and run a search to make sure your personal information has been hidden from public view. If your opt out request has failed to go through, send a message via FamilyTreeNow's Contact page and submit a request to opt out again.