25 September 2008

NEW DNA Company on Facebook

The following information is being sent to you was written by a well respected Genetic Genealogist. This article is a result of other genealogists raising concerns about the new DNA testing being offered by an application on Facebook.

Most of you may not deal with Facebook nor MySpace, but many, many genealogists are beginning to network using these. I am on Facebook, and there are hundreds of genealogists and many, many Genetic Genealogists there.

As DNA is becoming a huge household word, many people are trying to cash in on selling DNA testing to the public. This, in most cases, is quite harmful to the companies which are reputable since these upstart companies are often not organized, do not understand both genealogy and DNA, and do not offer any quailty service. Some even charge for you to see their databases, and this when you are paying them to test!

This low level of quality in service will make finding new testers a problem as over time people will become disgruntled if they buy from such places only to learn later they were fooled in some way. These types of companies are taking advantage of people, and I urge all of you to caution others to do their homework and go with only reliable, long-standing companies.

Although the info below pertains to just one company, there are several others which do not have good organization or good service. We are now receiving complaints on these companies. One main one is Ancestry.com. Complaints are from Administrators of various surname projects as well as from testers. Please educate people you know not to use companies who do not have their websites well organized for the conusmer, who do not provide good service or who are not in the DNA business with a real focus on genealogy. You want a company with a long-standing POSITIVE reputation. One that provides enough services that you can further your genealogy without paying more. One that will answer your questions. One that will be here in the future. Free and cheap are not always best. Remember: "You get what you pay for."

My friend Rebekah wrote the following and gave permission for it to be used here and anywhere else it is needed to help. If you are an Administrator of any project, please forward it to your members. The following includes quotes directly from the company's email to her in response to her inquiry.

Rebekah wrote:


A fellow DNA Project Administrator has pointed out that there is another company entering the Genetic Genealogy business. This is Familybuilder. (Please note that this is NOT to be confused with "Family Tree Builder".)

In the past Familybulider has been the provider of family tree software for networking websites such as Facebook. Ordinarily, I would say that competition is healthy for any industry. This company plans to operate though at a standard below that of any of the companies already out there. They do not plan to make money only by selling you a test and service but by selling their database built with users' DNA. "We may also sell, rent or otherwise disclose the anonymized DNA analyses of our customers and any related anonymized studies to third parties."


Their privacy policy absolves them of all responsibility for the maintenance of your privacy once they pass information on to their unnamed testing lab. "We are not responsible, and you agree that you will nothold us liable, for any actions of such third party, including disclosure by the third party of your confidential information, the content of the analysis provided by the third party, or for any other actions taken or omitted by the third party, or for any consequences, direct or indirect resulting from actions taken by the third party."


We work in an environment where we are already have to gain the confidence of leery relatives. I think that this blatant abuse of trust is the last thing that we need. Please read the privacy policies of any company carefully. Let your friends and relatives know that they should test at a company that is responsible and sells DNA services and not their users.

Rebekah C.

©aulicino, 25 Sept 2008

1 comment:

gene junkie said...

I was reading an online news letter, when I read an article they had about Familybuilder. It stated they were only offering 17 markers.

I have been a administrator for the Gilpin surname project since 2005. We are a small group with only 13 members. Two not testing with our projects company, two test not returned yet, leaving 8 Y-dna tests and 1 MT-dna test. Out of the 8 males tested we have four distinct different genetic lineages. Two we believe are non-parental events. 17 markers would not have allowed us to define the differences between these different genetic lines. We tested at http://www.familytreedna.com with the 37 level marker test. Without good administrators all 13 people who tested would have been very confused. Up until we started the project, we Gilpin descendants thought all Gilpins were related. Four different genetic lines have been found, 17 markers would not have defined these differences. In testing you can have exact matches at 12, 17, 25 or more and not be related within the time frame of the use of surnames. Most genetic genealogists believe that 37 markers is the least amount of markers needed to define family relationships. The markers tested are just as important as the amount of markers used. It needs to be a good assortment of slow and fast mutating (changing) markers. A good administrator can help you understand this. http://www.familytreedna.com gives help to both the volunteer administrator and the individual members of the different projects.
Exchanging service for a cheap 17-marker test at a start up company; could be a heartbreak for your expatiations. Consider “You get what you pay for”.