Ancestry.com Connects Facebook to Your Family Tree

Facebook Ancestry.com just announced a brand new feature. It is one that can only be used if you have a Facebook account. Use the feature and it will sort through Facebook and look for relatives that you can add to your family tree. The family tree exists on Facebook and links to your Ancestry.com account. Does anyone else see the problems with this?

Ancestry.com has a post on their blog that gives many details about a brand new feature. It’s a rather exclusive feature. To use it, you must have an Ancestry.com membership and a Facebook account. If you have both of those, then you can use this new feature to “grow your family tree”.

The new feature will pull information from the pages of your Facebook “friends” (who are relatives) and add it to the family tree that you already have at Ancestry.com. When your sister updates her profile image on Facebook, it will automatically change in your family tree as well. This means that if your sister prefers to use an image of a cartoon character, or of her cat, that will be the image that the new feature places into your family tree to represent your sister.

It is also going to grab your relative’s birthdays from their Facebook profiles, and then add them to your tree. Once a relative has been added to the Facebook version of your family tree, you can automatically gain access to his or her Facebook profile page directly from the tree. I think access is limited to the type you would get if you “friended” the person. You can read the posts on their page, leave comments, and send that person a message.

Let’s say that you aren’t interested in using this feature. You just don’t like the idea of putting your relative’s images, birthdays, and other information into Facebook because you aren’t sure what, exactly, Facebook will do with the data. That’s fine. You don’t have to use it. You can continue to only use your Ancestry.com family tree.

This does not mean that your information won’t be included into the Facebook version of your relative’s family tree, though. Your aunt, cousin, sister, or other relative who is on Facebook, and who has an Ancestry.com account, could decide that he or she wants to integrate their Facebook and Ancestry.com accounts. The new feature could automatically add you to their trees, (even if you don’t want to be added).

I can see another big problem. Let’s say that you use the Facebook family tree feature today. Months from now, you decide that you want to stop using Facebook, for whatever reason. I am certain that you will be able to cancel your Facebook account. What affect will that have on your Ancestry.com family tree?

Often, you have to cancel whatever other websites you have integrated into your Facebook account when you quit Facebook. Otherwise, if you use the connected accounts, it will restore your Facebook account automatically. I don’t think it was a very wise idea for Ancestry.com to make this connection to Facebook for its users (even the users who don’t want to have those two things connected).

Image by Neeraj Kumar on Flickr