Beware: you’re not the customer. You’re the raw material.
In 2014, a Google search turned up a link to a distant cousin on Mocavo that came from what I had uploaded: “The key to your family history may lie in John Grenham’s genealogy”. I logged in again and looked very closely at the profile settings in my account. Tucked away discreetly at the bottom was a default option: “Allow legacy searches”. How could they could be “legacy” searching a tree I’d deleted? But I just unticked the box and forgot about it.
Then last week another Google search uncovered someone else in my family. A systematic check unearthed dozens of links to the original information I had supposedly deleted. So I contacted the company and asked them to stop using my private tree to sell their service.
First, they said they got the data from somewhere else. When I pointed out information that was unique to my tree, they said the pages weren’t publicly available. When I sent them screenshots showing the pages, they told me I had to prove my identity to have them taken down. When I sent a scan of my passport, they took down some of the information, but not all. They then denied the remaining bits were there. Eventually, after much bluster, everything came down. I think.
The experience was truly Kafkaesque, and the moral is clear: Beware.
You’re not the customer. You’re the raw material.