Privacy Changes on Geni

Posted June 24, 2014 by Geni | Comments Off

We’d like to inform you of some important upcoming changes to Geni’s privacy rules. These changes are intended to enhance the privacy of profiles you want kept private, while at the same time move Geni closer to the widely-accepted genealogical practice of collaborating by sharing information about deceased persons.

Changes to private profiles

The privacy of private profiles will be increased. Private profiles will now display less information to non-family members:

  • The name will be shown as “<private> Lastname” instead of first initial and last name (or, in some cases the full name). This is consistent with our parent company, MyHeritage, and will ensure that information on one site cannot be used to augment information not shown by the other. The privatization of first names will be made across all features of the site. 
  • The profile photo and current location will no longer be publicly viewable by default.
  • Private profiles will hide all event dates and locations, as they do today.
  • Living people will always be private profiles unless a curator makes them into a Master Profile, which is the case mostly with famous people. It will not be possible to expose information about living people to the public by making their profile public. 

Profiles in your close family will remain fully viewable to you even when others cannot see them.

Note that Geni users who are logged in will see the first names of other Geni users even when their profiles are private, in order to allow communication between Geni users. All other fields of private profiles will remain invisible to other Geni users who are not their close family members.

Changes to deceased profiles

In order to be consistent with widely-accepted genealogical practice, Geni will be making deceased profiles public by default. Specifically:

  • New profiles for deceased people will be public – but in the rare cases that you wish to make a deceased profile private, you can still do that by editing the profile. You will find a new “Privacy” section at the top of the edit form.
  • Changing a profile from living to deceased will automatically select “public” – you can select “private” if you wish the profile to remain private.
  • Changing a profile from deceased to living will automatically select “private” – this cannot be changed, as Geni always makes living profiles private (unless they are made a Master Profile by a Geni curator).
  • As of July 1, 2014, existing deceased profiles will be changed to public.  Some profiles will be excluded from this change:
  1. profiles that have ever been set manually by Geni users to public or private (that is, the default privacy was changed)
  2. profiles considered sensitive such as recently deceased or those with a living parent
  • Profiles that are presumed deceased (based on birth year or estimated birth year from adjacent profiles) will be treated as deceased and therefore will be public by default.

We believe that conforming to the standard practice of most genealogists will make Geni easier and better for all of us, while still giving you control over privacy when you need it. By ensuring that living profiles are kept strictly private, Geni is now compliant with the strictest privacy regulations prevalent in the most privacy-minded countries. By having more deceased profiles as public, collaboration in the World Family Tree will now be easier. These steps will help move us closer to our goal of building the ultimate World Family Tree while handling privacy concerns better.

For more information about privacy on Geni, please visit our Privacy page.


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