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Warning about photos that identify living persons

Warning about photos that identify living persons

Posted: 1353379877000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Anon
I've been a member here over 3 years and have learned a lesson the hard way.

When I first started, my tree was public, and I posted a photograph that I hadn't double, triple checked to make sure it didn't reveal identities of living people.

Unfortunately I missed one.

I noticed my error within weeks and removed the photograph immediately, renamed my tree, and I made it private. But not before a name collector grabbed my photo and added it to their extensive (ridiculously so) tree.

Since then two of my family members have had serious incidents of identity theft.

This member isn't related to me by blood or marriage - and has refused to remove the photo even though I've explained the seriousness of identity theft and ancestry's policy of protecting living persons in regards to photos and profiles.

Finally after 3 years, I've reported this person to ancestry, hoping they can force this person to remove the photograph.

If not, please let my mistake be a caveat to beginners. Make sure you caption your photos in such a way living people are not identified. Better yet, don't post photos that could possibly identify someone who is living.

Although there are many ways identity theft may be achieved, one of the easiest ways to access information is through Unfortunately one has to acknowledge there are unethical people in this world - including this member who refuses to remove my photograph in spite of the pain and suffering my family members have experiences.

I only hope my family's issues with identity theft was not because of this person's flagrant disregard of a reasonable request. Why do they need that photograph if it is not a family member?

I do have proof the photo is mine as my scanner dates all photos scanned into my computer, and I spent days Photoshopping it, and Photoshop records the date the photo was originally entered into the program and the date it was saved -- all before this person posted it to their Mega Tree in the interest of name/photo collecting.

So beware - don't trust everyone - and sadly, this is why many people must choose to make their tree private, though I wish we lived in a world without identity theft and where people respected the property of others.

I take responsibility for overlooking the original caption, but that doesn't excuse this person's refusal to remove the photo after I've explained the seriousness of the situations my family has experienced w/identity theft.

I post this as a warning to newcomers not to make the same mistake I did.

Re: Warning about photos that identify living persons

Posted: 1353431777000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1353443703000
I think your warning is justified and well-written, but unfortunately I don't think many newcomers read this board.

If Ancestry doesn't remove the photo, try quoting some of this (to an Ancestry supervisor if need be, not the tree owner):

"No Ancestry member or visitor to the website may:

.... B. Post, transmit, or display content which is protected by copyright or trademark or that does not belong to you and that you do not have authorization for use from the owner of the copyright or trademark, including but not limited to email messages and notes in GEDCOMs. Read our copyright policy for more information.

C. Post, transmit, upload, or display content which contains proprietary or confidential information that you do not have a right to transmit. For example, but not limited to, posting any photos of living individuals without their permission or posting anyone else's email addresses without their consent."

"Don't post any photos of living individuals (other than just you) or anyone else's email addresses without their consent.

Don't include identifiable information about living people without their direct consent, or, in the case of minors, the consent of their parent or guardian. This includes (but is not limited to) a person's full name, location or contact information."

Copyright Policy

> Who can remove content from family trees?

"If you have a concern about information that someone has posted about you or a living family member please contact Member Services."

Another member, BurgessDonnelly may have some other tips/contacts to get the photo removed.

Re: Warning about photos that identify living persons

Posted: 1353468602000
Classification: Query
Thank you very much for your reply.

I did report my concern first to a real person at customer support, they told me to email

I did that and the reply was to report my issue by email to

So, I did as instructed, & when they got back to me, they were only concerned about copyright infringements, not privacy issues, and told me if it was regarding anything else to *call* customer support!

Very much a run around. I should have asked for a supervisor the first time, as you suggest.

But I will print your email out, and do just that - talk to a customer support supervisor as perhaps the person I originally spoke to didn't know protocol.

Thank you for the name of another member who may be able to help me.

I completely sympathize with anyone who might make the same mistake.

I have no issue sharing this photo with family (minus the caption), which is why I posted it to begin with. I do take issue with the fact it was used by a name collector who refused to remove it even though it compromises the identity of living people.

Thanks again for your help! April

Re: Warning about photos that identify living persons

Posted: 1353504004000
Classification: Query
In the updated "Report An Issue" (when viewing the actual offending photo on, you have the option to report various offenses, including information about yourself, your minor child or sensitive or inaccurate information. See attached screenshot.

Re: Warning about photos that identify living persons

Posted: 1353542133000
Classification: Query
I'm curious what sort of identifiable information could have possibly been contained in a photograph. Was the person holding a sign with their social security number? What was this a photograph OF?

Or was it actually an image of a document that you posted?

Re: Warning about photos that identify living persons

Posted: 1353551510000
Classification: Query
Think about it - if someone had a person's name AND their photograph, it would not be all that difficult (in some states, it would be dead easy) to get the date of birth, and probably the SSN, and put together some fairly credible fake documents. So a "what's the harm" attitude is not really well taken.

But the issue is really more fundamental, because Ancestry makes certain promises and representations about what will or will not be made available to the general public if included in a public tree - one of which is that no information about a living person, and no document attached to a living person, will be viewable except by those who have access to the tree and have been granted the specific right to see living persons. The subject of the photograph is not really relevant here.

Re: Warning about photos that identify living persons

Posted: 1353552118000
Classification: Query
Following on from the points made by McComberdescendant, ancestry's "privacy of the living" has failed multiple times in recent times, as items attached to a living person have been open to copying.

So, it matters not what someone did or did not make available - the promises or representations made by the corporation have not been upheld.

Re: Warning about photos that identify living persons

Posted: 1353558013000
Classification: Query
Exactly - I agree wholeheartedly. Promises were made to protect members' privacy, and they are not being upheld by's customer support.

I've been a World Deluxe Member for 3 years, but am now deleting all of my trees, public and private to protect my family. I've purchased two FTM software products, and I'd planned to remain a member here, but has proven they have no interest in following through on their promise to protect living persons.

If anyone has experienced identity theft, especially when it involves the IRS, it is not a joke.

Re: Warning about photos that identify living persons

Posted: 1353558402000
Classification: Query
Not 2 cute,

The caption clearly reveals clues that could lead to anyone finding out the names of that individual's children and grandchildren.

You've obviously never experienced identity theft, and you're obviously not familiar with's promise in their policy statement, which has kindly been posted in this thread, that Ancestry will protect the identity of living individuals.

Why would anyone want a photograph that doesn't belong to them, is copyrighted, and is of a person who is not related by blood or marriage? And why would they not comply with a request to remove the photograph if leaving it "as is" could harm another person? I'd even go along with letting them keep the photo if they'd remove the caption. This person won't even do that.

Rhetorical questions only. If you can't understand how serious it is to have someone file a fraudulent tax return with the IRS under your name, then I doubt anything I say will explain to you that identity theft is far from "cute".

Re: Warning about photos that identify living persons

Posted: 1353559304000
Classification: Query
Why not just delete the living folks from your trees instead of deleting entire trees? Surely the dead can keep the noses on their faces, eh?
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