Saturday, March 26, 2016
Who is talking to the FamilySearch.org Family Tree?
The question in this post's title came up as a result of a series of classes I taught recently at the Brigham Young University (BYU) Family History Library. One of the participants expressed real concern over the "public" nature of the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. As far as its publicly available content is concerned, the Family Tree is a unified, wiki-based, program open to all registered users. The only public/private division is between those people who are living and only viewable in each user's private space and those who are dead who are viewable by all. If you need more information about "Private Spaces" on the Family Tree, see the Help Center article, "Understanding Private Spaces."
As I have observed several times before, the fact that any registered user can edit, modify, add data, delete and change any of the entries is undoubtedly the biggest perceived problem with the Family Tree. It also happens to be its greatest attraction and strength. But rather than write about the reasons why it is important to the future of family history that such a unified family tree exists, I am going to address the question in the title. The answer is simple, anyone who manages to convince FamilySearch that they have a reasonable and viable program or app. Right now there are over 100 apps listed in the FamilySearch.org App Gallery.
Most of these programs have some connection to either read and/or write data to and from the Family Tree. In short, users of the Family Tree should have absolutely no expectation that any information put on the Family Tree or in the memories section of the program will be private. All of the information is very public and the items put in the Memories section of the Family Tree, except those un-tagged or containing only living people, are entirely searchable by a Google search.
I will be following up this post with another entitled, "Why is the FamilySearch Family Tree public?"