Warn as many folks as possible who use the big family tree site ANCESTRY, about a danger there, and the way they are happy to cruelly part relatives trying to make first contact. This affects folks all over the world. I have saved all info + contacts ready to get thrown out of Ancestry for campaigning on this. Would you support an online petition on it?

Here is the danger. If you get sent an invitation for access to a tree, you can only accept it once and then it is gone. But if by accident a different user account, not your own, is signed in on the computer where you are accepting from, your acceptance will go to that different account. The acceptance of your invitation can actually go to the wrong person, there is nothing to make sure it only goes to you. You will not know this can happen before it does. Then after it has happened, that’s it, the invitation is gone.

Support will go in 5 days from “if you could call us on… with the username for the owner of this tree once we verify your account details we can accept this invite for you” to “Unfortunately our privacy policy does not allow us to contact that member on your behalf nor to have the invitation resent to you”. This is negligence. No explanation even of why they should have such a privacy policy. Only if you are a full paying member have you any means at all to initiate a contact. This includes if you do a member search on the inviter’s real name – you can only find them if they have a public tree, and then if you find them you can’t message them unless you are a paying member. But many folks who are free Ancestry users without knowing it’s possible for this situation to happen, may not be able to become paying members even if they want to – because only folks with bank cards can do it, and it’s surprising who may not have one, I have seen a bank not want to give one to an old lady with no debt history at all. Anyone without a bank card, using Ancestry without knowing this can happen, could be left totally powerless to contact an inviter whose invitation gone to the wrong Ancestry account. Nor will the inviter will know it has happened.

This is a breach of service to the inviter too. What are you paying for, if this can happen to your invitations and you would not know it? This will leave cousins cruelly cut off from each other, by accident, after Ancestry momentarily let them know each other existed. My lost invitation was exceptionally warmly worded: “With thanks in anticipation. Warmest regards Your cousin.” But for the luck that (1) I have a bank card and (2) discovered he belongs to another site too, I could now be utterly cut off from that cousin with no way to let him know this happened, with Ancestry not caring and not explaining any sensible reason for refusing to tell him.


SHARE THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW WHO DOES TREE SITES. If a paying user of Ancestry, demand safeguards before you will stay with them.

Maurice Frank
27 Nov 2014