What are the possible dangers of a public family tree?

+15 votes
For those of you who have a private family tree, please share some of the problems or dangers you believe a public family tree can create.

Thank you and most sincerely, Peter

in The Tree House by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (606k points)
Great question Peter; I have often wondered what concerns would cause someone to make their tree private. I'll be interested in the answers.
I don't have a private tree because I feel the ones that shouldn't have this information already have it, namely the banks and the government.  :D
My tree on Ancestry.ca is private - I do that so that others don't copy any mistakes I may have. Once I've validated my 4 lines, then I'll share it. It's just one way to avoid passing on errors as so often happens. I use Ancestry to access offical records where possible.

4 Answers

+8 votes
Best answer

I think perhaps many family tree tabs on WikiTree have private Privacy settings because of the default settings for living people.  Many folks don't know there are other options such as Private with Public Family Tree and Private with Public Biography and Family Tree which still protect the privacy of the family members, but allows others to view the family tree for the individual.

When I see a profile with a red Private circle icon or an orange Private with Public Biography, I send them this message:

"You might want to set your Privacy to Private with Public Family Tree. The WikiTree programming needs to see your Family Tree tab to make DNA and other cousin connections for you. Please take a look at my profile http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Cooper-1 where I use Private with Public Biography AND Family Tree to see a list of some of my WikiTree cousin connections and my list of U.S. Presidential cousins."

by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (586k points)
selected by anonymous
+2 votes
There is no internet site that is locked down securely, no matter how diligent the technical staff works. Many banking sites use the so-called secure questions that ask "mother's maiden name", place of birth, etc. The only defense the user can adopt is to answer such questions with things like born on Mars, etc. After a close family member has the funds stolen from their savings account you tend to limit exposure of your nearest and dearest on any internet site.
by Sally x G2G6 Mach 4 (41.1k points)
Thanks Sheila,

What more do banking sites need besides a person's mother's maiden name?

Sincerely, Peter
I think the confusion comes from not comprehending why a person is on a wiki site whose sole purpose is to collaborate if you want your information to remain private.  There are other sites where the safeguards are stronger to protect identity theft.  And, as Kitty points out in the next answer, there are ways to "open" the profile without losing privacy.  It seems to be a paradox.

I do understand why some people are concerned about safety in this day and age. But you can use privacy settings and Anonymous to ease those concerns while still linking to the One WikiTree.
+4 votes
I understand the concern many have concerning privacy, however it is like the saying "locks are for honest people". You can lock your door at home and it keeps out the honest people...if someone really wants to enter your home they will. So too WikiTree profiles...if you have concerns that keep you up at night you should not be on the internet at all, a private designation will only keep out the people who respect privacy as a life principal. Therefore I don't post things I don't want others to see and I'm pretty open with the things I do post.
by Brett Rutherford G2G6 Pilot (121k points)
+4 votes
I do not put my living family members who are law enforcement and military on wikitree.  So I don't worry about privacy settings.
by Anonymous Roach G2G6 Pilot (186k points)
That's a good answer.  I have added my brother but he does genealogy and has his information all over the place.  But I haven't added any from the generation below our sibling level, just for that extra layer.

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