Website Displaying Personal Information of Police Officers Is Misleading
By Erica Abbott
Can criminals access the personal information of police officers with a free search on a website? While this claim is true, the searches do not specifically target police officers—anyone’s personal information may be accessed by simply entering a person’s name.
In a post shared earlier this week, the Facebook page “Survive the Streets: A Page for Cops” warned law enforcement officers against a website that allows people to retrieve personal information, such as family names and place of residence. On Family Tree Now, internet users can find the personal information of anyone by simply searching their name and state. “This is legit,” they caption the post. “We’ve tested it, my address was in the search, and some of my family was connected to the profile. The amount of info and the accuracy of it is terrifying.”
Survive the Streets: A Page for Cops
Additional search criteria include middle name, city and birth year. Other databases on the free genealogy website include census records, divorce records, World War II personnel records and more.
The Facebook post includes instructions to opt out, however, they warned that the process could take up to 48 hours. The steps listed on Family Tree Now include:
Step 1: After you click the ‘begin’ button below, you will be taken to the search page. Run a search for yourself.
Step 2: After you have found yourself in the results, click on the record detail. Verify that this is yourself and not just someone else with your same name.
Step 3: After you are 100% sure this is your record, click the big red ‘Opt Out’ button that is on the page.
Step 4: You are done. Please allow up to 48 hours for your request to be processed. Once it’s processed that record will be removed from all places on the site. Note: If you have multiple records that need to be removed, repeat steps 1-4.
Many users pointed out, however, that there are hundreds of other public records sites out there so opting out wouldn’t make much of a difference. Others, who were specifically focused on police officers, said their patrol car was parked in front of their home anyway so the website wasn’t a big concern. “I don’t even know if it really even matters anymore,” one commenter wrote. “How many other sites like this are there? If someone wants to find you, they will find you.”
Other websites that offer the same services, though not entirely free, include Intelius and Spokeo, according to Snopes. Information on these websites, however, are not as in depth or accurate unless a fee is paid. Similar information can also be found on Whitepages. PCWorld also points out that, to a certain extent, this information may be found on Facebook too.
Though police officers were not being specifically targeted, social media users still expressed cause for concern for the general public.
Social Media Reacts to Family Tree Now Personal Information
FamilyTreeNow dot com is an unconscionable and terrifying breach of all common sense ideas about privacy, holy shit.
— Droopy McCool (@BooDooPerson) January 10, 2017
That familytreenow site is just one of hundreds with your info for free or sale. NEVER use your real info for security questions!
— vix ️ (@vixlingr) January 10, 2017
Family records are one thing but how is it legal for @familytreenow to give out addresses like Halloween candy? This is DANGEROUS!
— Wizard Lady (@Ladywizarding) January 11, 2017
The FamilyTreeNow nightmare is a good time to remind everyone that the “standard” security questions are stupid…
— Andrew Thaler (@DrAndrewThaler) January 10, 2017
familytreenow dot com should be the case study trotted out in cyberethics about how aggregating public data isn’t politically neutral
— [inaudible] agenda (@vogon) January 10, 2017
— b̈́͐̐̊́͠͝͝ȁ̈́̓̅̂̓̏̄t͒ (@mzbat) January 11, 2017
Did you know about this website? Have you ever searched your own name on these websites? Sound off in the comments section below!
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
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