Online Ancestry Family Trees: Privacy and Sharing

This is a subject that often comes up in conversation amongst my genealogy friends – should you keep your online family trees hosted by the likes of Ancestry and FindMyPast private or allow them to be seen by one and all. This 25 minute video by Ancestry’s Crista Cowan explains the privacy rules for Ancestry’s online family trees and then shows you how to share your tree with others.

Online Ancestry Family Trees: Privacy and Sharing

I have four family trees on Ancestry, each starting from a grandparent, and they are at the moment private, but I do reply to all the requests from other researchers for access and information. However once I have checked and sourced each person on the trees I will make them public so that the research and information won’t be lost once I’m not here anymore. Not that I intend becoming an ancestor for a long time yet Winking smile

I recently heard that Ancestry are thinking of Family Tree Genealogyinstigating a traffic light system to grade the millions of trees that are on their site. I understand that red will mean the tree is small, hasn’t been added to for a long time and hasn’t any sources, amber will indicate a larger tree with some sources and green will indicate that the tree is actively being worked on, is well sourced and documented. I think this is an excellent idea and hopefully it will give some well earned recognition to those awarded green who work hard on making their trees good, historical documents and encourage the amber tree owners to make the leap and start improving their trees to green. As for the red trees well I suspect they are a lost cause, probably the result of a free 14 day trial of Ancestry taken out on a wet Sunday afternoon!

Christa is always worth listening to so click on the start button and learn what Ancestry does to protect the privacy of those living, how to share trees with other family members and other related topics.


  1. I agree that trees that have just been abandoned can be a pain, but equally I know quite a few people, myself included, who have most of their information on other software which is written up in a way to produce the documentation they want – which isn’t always the way the software would like to present it. Uploading such files to Ancestry wouldn’t work, and therefore it would be very very painstaking to repeat all the work again. I have a private Ancestry tree, but mainly just the bare information is listed, just enough for someone to tell it is the right person, so if someone spots it and shares a relative they can message me and we can discuss it rather than then viewing my tree and thinking that is all the info I have.

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