Topics

Data matching privacy issue on MyHeritage


Fruitbat
 

Has anyone else noticed that results from MyHeritage reveal information about living people appearing in other peoples’ trees?

 

 

For example, the MH match I received for one living individual in my tree, doesn’t only reveal that he is in another tree, it gives his year of birth, lists his parents, his wife (with year of birth), his children (with their years of birth) and his siblings – all of whom are living!

 

Clicking on the links provided for each of the above relatives returns the named individual’s profile page, which is then correctly flagged as <Private>, with no forename or vital information displayed, but it does show the surnames (birth and married) of the mother and of the siblings and half-siblings.

 

These disclosures appear to be in breach of MH’s own policy, which is shown on each individual’s profile page, which says “MyHeritage protects the privacy of its users strictly: information on living people is not disclosed to protect privacy. ...”

This isn't a one-off, it's the same whenever living people appear in the family of a matched individual.


colevalleygirl@colevalleygirl.co.uk
 

Best taken up with MyHeritage I suggest as they control what data is included in hints.

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Fruitbat
Sent: 18 August 2020 12:17
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: [family-historian] Data matching privacy issue on MyHeritage

 

Has anyone else noticed that results from MyHeritage reveal information about living people appearing in other peoples’ trees?

 

 

For example, the MH match I received for one living individual in my tree, doesn’t only reveal that he is in another tree, it gives his year of birth, lists his parents, his wife (with year of birth), his children (with their years of birth) and his siblings – all of whom are living!

 

Clicking on the links provided for each of the above relatives returns the named individual’s profile page, which is then correctly flagged as <Private>, with no forename or vital information displayed, but it does show the surnames (birth and married) of the mother and of the siblings and half-siblings.

 

These disclosures appear to be in breach of MH’s own policy, which is shown on each individual’s profile page, which says “MyHeritage protects the privacy of its users strictly: information on living people is not disclosed to protect privacy. ...”

This isn't a one-off, it's the same whenever living people appear in the family of a matched individual.


Allan Knodel
 

Are you logged in to your account on MH when you click the links? When you log out of your account do you get the same results? Just wondering....


On Tue, 18 Aug 2020 at 04:16, Fruitbat <eric.familyhistory@...> wrote:

Has anyone else noticed that results from MyHeritage reveal information about living people appearing in other peoples’ trees?

 

 

For example, the MH match I received for one living individual in my tree, doesn’t only reveal that he is in another tree, it gives his year of birth, lists his parents, his wife (with year of birth), his children (with their years of birth) and his siblings – all of whom are living!

 

Clicking on the links provided for each of the above relatives returns the named individual’s profile page, which is then correctly flagged as <Private>, with no forename or vital information displayed, but it does show the surnames (birth and married) of the mother and of the siblings and half-siblings.

 

These disclosures appear to be in breach of MH’s own policy, which is shown on each individual’s profile page, which says “MyHeritage protects the privacy of its users strictly: information on living people is not disclosed to protect privacy. ...”

This isn't a one-off, it's the same whenever living people appear in the family of a matched individual.


Mike Tate
 

Allan, that should make no difference ~ living people data should be kept private according to MH own policy ~ full stop.

 

From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Allan Knodel
Sent: 18 August 2020 21:30
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Data matching privacy issue on MyHeritage

 

Are you logged in to your account on MH when you click the links? When you log out of your account do you get the same results? Just wondering....

 


Chris
 

I have noticed this too, but haven't done anything about it. I don't believe it is exclusive to matches via Family Historian, rather happens in MyHeritage with any Smart Matches.
Chris


Karen Groeneveld
 

Oh yes! My Heritage and privacy are an issue. I naïvely provided information to a relative 20 years ago, that included my own and my young daughters’ birthdates. Then when I moved to FH as my genie platform, I found these details up on My Heritage in a complete stranger’s tree! Without a My Heritage subscription at the time, it took a lot of effort to get the admin people to allow me to contact the person, who was very reluctant to take down the details. A real worry, as I’ve no idea how far the information spread. I think Ancestry has an algorithm in place that blocks access to details for living people and assumes anyone younger than 100 without a death date is ‘living’. Should be mandatory.

 

Karen Groeneveld

Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia


John & Carol King
 

Exactly the same happened to me and My Heritage were very resistant to removing the information as I did not have an account with them, in the end it was removed however.

On Wed, 19 Aug 2020 at 8:14, Karen Groeneveld
<groeneveld@...> wrote:

Oh yes! My Heritage and privacy are an issue. I naïvely provided information to a relative 20 years ago, that included my own and my young daughters’ birthdates. Then when I moved to FH as my genie platform, I found these details up on My Heritage in a complete stranger’s tree! Without a My Heritage subscription at the time, it took a lot of effort to get the admin people to allow me to contact the person, who was very reluctant to take down the details. A real worry, as I’ve no idea how far the information spread. I think Ancestry has an algorithm in place that blocks access to details for living people and assumes anyone younger than 100 without a death date is ‘living’. Should be mandatory.

 

Karen Groeneveld

Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia


David Dewick
 

Ancestry may have an algorithm for blocking access to  “living people”, however, it does not take a great deal of effort (or skill) to identify them and gather a lot of information about them. I keep my trees on Ancestry private, but searchable so if anyone needs information from my tree it is necessary to contact me for it. My trees are also private in response to requests from other family members to protect as much as possible the information available about them online whilst still being able to continue my research. My Heritage is not the only service provider to offer all kinds of inducements, though, to putting and keeping your tree online, and although some may be worthwhile, the benefits need to be assessed clinically before you get tempted.

 

As far as finding my information on other peoples’ trees, that problem is endemic. The failure to respond to notifications when you discover an error is unforgiveable, but sadly is the case the majority of times. Eventually, errors spread so widely it is all but impossible to get corrections out there. Keeping a tree private does, at least, allow you to control who has access to your research, and keep them up to date with developments.

 

I think I might have a tree from years ago on MyHeritage. I will check and delete it.

 

David Dewick


Derek Kain
 

Hello readers,
A question, if you want to keep it private for sure why put the private information online?
I don't.
Derek

On Wed, 19 Aug 2020 at 09:55, David Dewick <david.dewick@...> wrote:

Ancestry may have an algorithm for blocking access to  “living people”, however, it does not take a great deal of effort (or skill) to identify them and gather a lot of information about them. I keep my trees on Ancestry private, but searchable so if anyone needs information from my tree it is necessary to contact me for it. My trees are also private in response to requests from other family members to protect as much as possible the information available about them online whilst still being able to continue my research. My Heritage is not the only service provider to offer all kinds of inducements, though, to putting and keeping your tree online, and although some may be worthwhile, the benefits need to be assessed clinically before you get tempted.

 

As far as finding my information on other peoples’ trees, that problem is endemic. The failure to respond to notifications when you discover an error is unforgiveable, but sadly is the case the majority of times. Eventually, errors spread so widely it is all but impossible to get corrections out there. Keeping a tree private does, at least, allow you to control who has access to your research, and keep them up to date with developments.

 

I think I might have a tree from years ago on MyHeritage. I will check and delete it.

 

David Dewick


Julia Vokes
 

I agree with Derek Kain. Before putting my tree onto Ancestry I used the excellent tools in FH to make a copy with all people born less than 100 years ago stripped out. I also removed all my sources, so that only the bare bones went onto Ancestry. It enabled DNA matches to work.
However, I have still had people making erroneous matches and some very basic errors. I have also suffered from people not replying to messages asking them to rectify the mistake, but understand this is very common. Hence why I’m very cautious what I put onto websites and when I find information on other trees.

Regards
Julia


David Dewick
 

The answers are simple. First, the Hints system on Ancestry can be useful in finding information that might otherwise have been missed by referring me to datasets I would not normally think of searching. Second, by keeping a tree private but searchable anyone with a genuine interest will, hopefully, contact me. Thirdly, as I have already said, keeping the tree private allows me to control who has access to my research, the upshot of which is I can easily contact those with access to my tree to let me know if I find a mistake, and with a reasonable degree of certainty that the mistake will get corrected in their tree. Fourth, because I have been requested to. Fifth, because it is all but impossible to contact anyone who may be living to get their assent to me putting their details online and publically accessible. Finally, because in the past my tree has been a public tree and copied (several times) lock stock and barrel, including some serious errors. These errors have subsequently been corrected through further detailed research but those who have made the copies have been totally deaf to my contacting them with details of the errors, errors that now persist and get propagated in a very large number of other publically available trees.

 

From: family-historian@groups.io [mailto:family-historian@groups.io] On Behalf Of Derek Kain
Sent: 19 August 2020 10:01
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Data matching privacy issue on MyHeritage

 

Hello readers,

A question, if you want to keep it private for sure why put the private information online?

I don't.

Derek

 

On Wed, 19 Aug 2020 at 09:55, David Dewick <david.dewick@...> wrote:

Ancestry may have an algorithm for blocking access to  “living people”, however, it does not take a great deal of effort (or skill) to identify them and gather a lot of information about them. I keep my trees on Ancestry private, but searchable so if anyone needs information from my tree it is necessary to contact me for it. My trees are also private in response to requests from other family members to protect as much as possible the information available about them online whilst still being able to continue my research. My Heritage is not the only service provider to offer all kinds of inducements, though, to putting and keeping your tree online, and although some may be worthwhile, the benefits need to be assessed clinically before you get tempted.

 

As far as finding my information on other peoples’ trees, that problem is endemic. The failure to respond to notifications when you discover an error is unforgiveable, but sadly is the case the majority of times. Eventually, errors spread so widely it is all but impossible to get corrections out there. Keeping a tree private does, at least, allow you to control who has access to your research, and keep them up to date with developments.

 

I think I might have a tree from years ago on MyHeritage. I will check and delete it.

 

David Dewick


Fruitbat
 

Chris - After a little more research, that's the conclusion I've reached too.  I have raised the issue with MH.


John Hanson
 

The one thing to remember with all these online services is that unless you delete your data before you close you account it will stay there and so will you email address
Ancestry will certainly forward to the user any contact made even if the account has been closed whether you get a response or not will depend on the user

As I include my email address in all my contacts I have actually had someone who had closed there account actually reply, thank me for the correction and provide even more. So it can work

I only have the limited amount of information online

FMP has an interesting approach and in some ways even worse I think
You get a message to says that there is a match in someone elses tree and do you want to merge the information but there is no way the "Chat" with the person to exchange information.

Regards
John Hanson - researching the Halstead/Holstead/Alstead names
Researcher, the Halsted Trust - https://www.halsted.org.uk
Research website - https://www.halstedresearch.org.uk
2021 Family History Conference - https://www.elizabethanancestors.org.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: family-historian@groups.io <family-historian@groups.io> On Behalf Of Julia Vokes
Sent: 19 August 2020 10:25
To: family-historian@groups.io
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Data matching privacy issue on MyHeritage

I agree with Derek Kain. Before putting my tree onto Ancestry I used the excellent tools in FH to make a copy with all people born less than 100 years ago stripped out. I also removed all my sources, so that only the bare bones went onto Ancestry. It enabled DNA matches to work.
However, I have still had people making erroneous matches and some very basic errors. I have also suffered from people not replying to messages asking them to rectify the mistake, but understand this is very common. Hence why I’m very cautious what I put onto websites and when I find information on other trees.

Regards
Julia


Mike Tate
 

Whatever technique you use on Ancestry, FindMyPast, MyHeritage, ZoomPast, etc, to try and keep living person data private, you are reliant on the software on that platform to keep the information protected. The only certain way to keep it private is to avoid publishing it online.

 

Regarding MyHeritage, rather than just removing private data, all of you who suffered that problem should insist MyHeritage correct their software to honour their privacy policy.

 


Lorna Craig
 

The problem is that however careful you are with your own data you can't stop other people adding your personal information to their trees, if they happen to know it.  And whatever Ancestry and MyHeritage etc may say, they don't manage to control it.

It's true that Ancestry has an algorithm which is supposed to block details of living people, but it doesn't always work.  I have even found a case where I'm pretty sure Ancestry's own 'hints' were responsible for some dates of birth of living people being displayed in a tree.  The 'hint' had come up because the names of a couple (both deceased) were in a ship's passenger list.  But their three children (all still living) were also in the passenger list, which gave their full names and exact dates of birth.  Their names and dates had been added to a public tree, citing the passenger list as the source.  I reported it but they have still not been removed.

Lorna


Roy Parsons
 

I’m a bit torn on this matter but have found this discussion very helpful.

Recently my wife found a significant group of her family after discovering one member on an Ancestry on-line public tree. It included a couple of “interesting” relations and began to answer a couple of intriguing  questions about her family history! It also gave her contact with one relative who was able to verify much of the data. All very pleasing and helpful.

However, I personally have always shied away from putting info on the web having seen the amount of inaccurate data being disseminated.

I suppose it comes down to how you manage it all.

Eenie, meenie, minie , mo ……..!


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Adrian Bruce
 

I got a bit uptight the first time that I saw my photos of my GG-GPs in someone else's tree. And then I thought that, after my death, there's every chance that the originals will be destroyed. So isn't it better that the digital copies are out there? You might say that the images should be cited and acknowledged - yes, but we need to remember that the choice is not between uncontrolled / uncited / unacknowledged copies and controlled / cited copies, the choice is between uncontrolled copies and none. 

As far as relying on the redaction processing in Ancestry, FindMyPast, MyHeritage, FamilySearch etc - I don't. I originally entered my parents with given names of LIVING. It won't, of course, stop anyone adept with genealogical indexes from working out who they were, but that would be a risk anyway, tree or no tree. 

It's an interesting point about the passenger list containing details about living people. All I can say is that the data is there whether there's a tree or not. Perhaps not wholly satisfactory as a response. 

Adrian



Lorna Craig
 

On 19/08/2020 14:12, Adrian Bruce wrote:

I got a bit uptight the first time that I saw my photos of my GG-GPs in someone else's tree. And then I thought that, after my death, there's every chance that the originals will be destroyed. So isn't it better that the digital copies are out there?

Yes, as long as they are attached to the right people! Sometimes the photos are copied and attached to the wrong people.  I've seen it happen.

Lorna



colevalleygirl@colevalleygirl.co.uk
 

I don’t have a problem sharing my research online, once I’ve removed all details of living people and people born less than 100 years ago that I don’t know to be dead. (I won’t rely on the privacy mechanisms provided by Ancestry, MH etc. – I’d rather be in control myself.)  I do show the ‘empty slots’ in the tree if only because I had a complaint from a living cousin that I was denying we were cousins! I wasn’t prepared to include their details but I agree to show their existence.

 

The one living person I will identify if I have to (to act as the root of the tree, e.g. on Ancestry for DNA purposes) is myself, identified by my initials and with no date.  I haven’t sought permission from any of my siblings and their descendants to identify them online, other than by (false) initials where their DNA kits are available for matching.   Anyone with a clue what they’re doing will be able to root out all my siblings’ birth data by looking for children born to my parents (who are dead and therefore identified) in the GRO indices, but that’s publicly available information by law, and there’s a difference between the Government identifying them (unavoidable) and me identifying them (unforgiveable). And I suspect most of the youngsters reveal more on Farcebook or their social media of choice than I would ever do, but that still doesn’t give me the right to identify them.

 

If anyone wants to use my research, they’re welcome to it – I don’t provide copies of sources, but I do provide transcriptions. If I want to use somebody else’s research (notably sources or photos) after I’ve checked it thoroughly, I will always ask for permission and if they want an acknowledgement. I’ve never been refused permission – one cousin in Ohio supplied hundreds of sources and photos for the branch of my family that moved out there in the mid-nineteenth century; and others have been equally generous.  Yet others have collaborated with me on breaking down a joint brick wall where we each had part of the jigsaw but couldn’t complete it alone. On balance, sharing my tree and consulting the trees of others has had more pluses than minuses. There is of course ‘SM66’ on Ancestry who copies everything I put in my tree but I can’t prevent that.  I did wonder for a long time why he was interested as there didn’t seem to be any link... until I looked ‘downstream’ as it were and found his family was related to my niece’s father, and he’s decided to do my niece’s tree and join it into his! I rather think he’s a name collector... but live and let live; he’s not doing any harm as long as he keeps copying me!

 

 


Adrian Bruce
 



On Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 14:34 Lorna Craig via groups.io <l.m.craig=ntlworld.com@groups.io> wrote:

On 19/08/2020 14:12, Adrian Bruce wrote.... 

Yes, as long as they are attached to the right people! Sometimes the photos are copied and attached to the wrong people.  I've seen it happen.

Lorna

I'm sure that it does happen. But frankly Lorna, I can't hold myself responsible for tracking down every moron and idiot who doesn't understand elementary details of checking. As is stated above, most don't reply anyway..... I just have to chill about the stupidities out there...

Adrian