Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ancestry and MyLife Public Records Index

Like many of you, I received an email from Anastasia Tyler of Ancestry.com explaining the new additions to the Ancestry databases and the deal with the Public Records Indexes. See DearMYRTLE's blog post with the press release.

The operative paragraphs about the current Public Records Indexes are:

"The soon-to-be-added records will replace the existing USPRI records, which contains recently compiled public records dating back to about 2000 and are primarily used for searching living people. As part of this change, you might notice that some search result pages on Ancestry.com include basic search results for records on MyLife.com. We have partnered with MyLife.com, a leading subscription-based people search service. We believe that MyLife.com, which includes current public information and more than 700 million profiles of living people, is better equipped to offer these services than we are.

"While we will no longer serve post-2000 USPRI records on Ancestry.com, members who have already saved records from the database to an online tree will retain free access to those records."


It looks to me that:

* Ancestry.com will no longer have the present Public Records Index database with records of current persons names, addresses, phone numbers, ages, etc. This database was my primary source for finding living people, especially in the Unclaimed Persons group on Facebook.

* Some search pages on Ancestry.com will link to www.MyLife.com, which is a separate web site with searches for living people. The search results may be for basic search results and not provide much useful information, except for the promise of "click this link, pay some money, we'll show you what we have."

I was curious about www.MyLife.com. I went to the site, tried to register and it said my email address was already in their database. Hmmm. I don't remember that. Then I saw that this site was FORMERLY www.reunion.com, and I frankly don't recall if I had an account there or not. Probably. The other option is that Ancestry.com seeded MyLife.com with their subscriber emails - I doubt that happened, but I don't know for sure. I clicked the "forgot password" button, received the email and have an unrememberable username and password.

www.MyLife.com is a subscription site, with FREE and Premium ($% per month for a year, $12 per month monthly) services. The company background is at http://www.mylife.com/press-room. You can see the list of services for both accounts at https://www.mylife.com/subscription.do?dispatch=start. The User Agreement is at http://www.mylife.com/user-agreement. The Terms of Service is at http://www.mylife.com/terms-service. There are over 180 FAQs here.

The About Us page at http://www.mylife.com/about-us is the most interesting. It says, in part:

"MyLife offers you access to more than 750 million profiles with advanced search and filtering options, all in one place. We access publicly available information from a variety of places - proprietary sources, social networks, public domain - to create the largest database of online and offline information to help you find anyone from anytime in your life.
* MyLife takes care of the hard work by searching the Web for you to deliver accurate and timely results.
* If you don't immediately find who you're looking for, MyLife continues searching on your behalf and provides you with updates and alerts as new information becomes available.
* MyLife suggests friends and contacts you may know based on your profile information and existing contacts.
* A popular reverse-search feature - Who's Searching for You? - lets you know who's looking for you and further increases the chances of reconnecting with anyone.
* MyLife gives you a global view into the most popular sites your friends are part of, including LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace as well as 50 other sites. "


Doesn't that just warm the cockles of your privacy? Does the last paragraph mean that: If you have personal stuff on the over 50 social network sites (that you've limited to selected people, like Friends on Facebook), then anybody with a MyLife premium subscription can find your stuff.

If that is the case, then we should all be very careful about what we put on Facebook and other sites, even if we limit it to selected and approved persons.

I read somewhere that Reunion.com was affiliated with one of the subscription people finder sites like www.USsearch.ocm. Is MyLife.com now affiliated with them too? Are all of the former Reunion.com contacts included in MyLife.com? I imagine that they are.

Genealogicus caveat emptor!

Why would Ancestry.com do something like this? The easy answer is "money" of course. I'm disappointed but not really surprised. I hate to lose the Public Records Index from Ancestry. I'm not at all sure that I want to be part of MyLife.com, even if they do have a cute little green logo that causes a person to subliminally connect them to Ancestry.com.

4 comments:

Jennifer said...

My guess is that MyLife would just search the public profiles of Facebook, Myspace, etc. Everyone has a public profile on these sites that have their photo, name and usually a few of their friends listed. The actual info we post and such to those profiles wouldn't be accessible except from within the sites themselves and would be bound by the privacy settings therein. Just a guess, though.

Ginger Smith said...

Hi Randy, thanks for writing this informative post. I was likewise wondering what this new "database" would be all about.
And speaking of social networking sites, would you mind if I posted a link to your blog on my facebook page, so my "friends" can be informed as well?
Thanks!Ginger

Anne MItchell said...

Hi Randy, just a quick comment.

Ancestry.com did NOT give mylife.com any of our subscriber information to seed their databases.

And when you click over there from a link on ancestry.com, you have to give them your information....we do not send them any emails or login information.

Just wanted to make sure you knew. :-)

Keep posting, I always read!

Anne Mitchell
Search Product Manager, Ancestry.com

Ben Walker said...

Dick Eastmen has a comment about MyLife in his blog for today (3/20). It appears to me that this outfit uses rather shady tactics to get the email addresses from one's address book!