Power-Up SIG Notes: Using Facebook for Genealogy

Facebook Overview

  • Your profile
  • Your newsfeed
  • Groups and pages
    • Pages are largely run by one or two folks, using a more curated, broadcast model
    • Groups are moderated by a couple of people, but are more communal, with any member allowed to post.
    • Groups can be
      • Open, where anyone can join and jump right in immediately
      • Closed, where you have to ask to join and a moderator approves you (sometimes they ask questions to verify that you are not a machine and not trying to sell sunglasses). Closed doesn’t mean they don’t want you — most groups close just to keep out the spammers and pornographers, so go ahead and click the Join button
      • Secret, where the group doesn’t even show up in searches and you have to be invited to join

Straight Genealogy

  • Katherine Willson’s list of 11,000+ groups on Facebook: https://socialmediagenealogy.com/genealogy-on-facebook-list/
  • Genealogy Master List of Facebook Groups: a group on Facebook,
  • Genealogy technique groups, i.e. Genetic Genealogy Techniques & Tips
  • Genealogy software and website groups, i.e. Family Tree Maker Users
  • Genealogy societies, i.e. MHGS
  • Museums, archives, libraries, i.e. Kansas Historical Society
  • Local history, i.e. Wichita History from my Perspective
  • Just search!  There’s probably a group for that!

Keeping in Touch With Family

  • Sharing stories and photos
  • A couple ways to structure it
    • Just post to your newsfeed
    • Post, but just to selected friends
    • Create a private group — you can make private (can still be found in public list of groups) or secret (findable only by current members)

Researching Living Relatives

  • Totally optional. Don’t do it if it makes you uncomfortable!
  • General steps:
    • Search name.  If too many names, search name and city or state
    • Look at About section.  May learn birthday, marital status, birthplace, current city, jobs, education.
    • Look at Family and Relationships, under About
    • Look at photos — especially read the comments on pictures with kids or family events, since it’s amazing how many relatives post things like “you’re looking great, mom” or “that’s my grandson!”  Also see who is tagged, since you might get names of relatives
    • Look at friends — search on surnames, especially maiden or grandparent surnames.
    • Last, skim the posts on the timeline to see if there are birthday or anniversary congratulations, or a conversation about a funeral or family memory
    • Send a Friend Request!

Keeping Yourself Safe (and Sane)

  • There is enormous tension between sharing and privacy.  You need to decide what suits you today, and you will need to revisit the subject regularly as Facebook is always changing.
  • There is a difference between what other Facebook users can learn about you and what Facebook sells to marketers about you.  You don’t have much control about what Facebook knows about you, other than to not use Facebook.
    • You can see what Facebook knows about you by going to Settings, General, Download a copy of your Facebook data.
  • You have a lot of control over what other Facebook users can learn about you.  Click on the little down arrow by the question mark at the top of the window, then select Settings.
    • You can see what the public (non-friends) can see under Settings, Public Posts, View your public timeline
  • You also have a lot of control over what you see from other Facebook users.
    • You can be “friends” with someone without letting them fill your newsfeed with junk.
      • To stop seeing everything they post, Unfollow them.  You are still friends, they see what you post, and you can go to their profile page to catch up.
      • To stop seeing all those sappy pictures and inspirational quotes, click on the three dots to the right of an annoying shared post and “Hide all from xxx”