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ScottyMcGeester's avatar

Have you used ancestry.com? Is it safe?

Asked by ScottyMcGeester (1872points) April 25th, 2018

My girlfriend got me an ancestry. com kit for my birthday. I talked about how I knew little of my family and expressed once how cool it’d be to do one of those ancestry. com things.

However, I had second thoughts. I haven’t sent my DNA yet because the question occurred to me – what will ultimately happen to my DNA?

Sure they have a privacy agreement and whatever – but how can you really be sure that they won’t do anything funny with your DNA? What if they go bankrupt in the future? What will happen to my DNA then? Sold to the highest bidder? I’m not only talking about things like privacy issues like people finding out who I am and my SS# and whatever. What if they use my DNA for something really crazy like cloning or use it on an experiment and then it turns out that my DNA is special or something and they make tons of money off of it but I have no idea? Idk. Shit like that.

I feel bad because my girlfriend spent money on this. But she too was like “Uh, wait. Look into it first I guess.” She heard a rumor that ancestry. com had an issue with a customer about giving falsified information – like they made up some crap about the person’s lineage.

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12 Answers

Zaku's avatar

You can use Ancestry.com without sending them your DNA. Personally, I prefer to limit who has my DNA, so I haven’t sent it out, but I know people who have and I don’t think there’s an immediate danger of doing so.

I’m with you that I have a concern that DNA sent out won’t end up in various databases that could be used against me in future, and I’d rather that not happen. I know enough about my ancestors from conventional means to not think I’d really gain that much, and if I really wanted to know, I also know 30 or more blood relatives whose DNA should reveal similar information, especially if 2 or 3 have already sent theirs in.

Of course, what you could do is have someone else send in your DNA sample, in which case they hopefully wouldn’t ever figure out whose DNA that really was.

All that said, probably they don’t care, don’t keep that detailed a record, and nothing bad will ever happen with it.

As an ancestry database/tool, their web site is pretty good and useful, though it’s also imperfect, incomplete, and depends on who else has put in data that it’s collected, which tends to be mainly English-speaking places, particularly America.

rojo's avatar

Depends on what you want to be concerned about.
I sent mine in knowing full well that when I did I no longer had control over the information but I wanted information in return so for me the risk was acceptable. I confirmed what my understanding of my ancestry was and led me to several new and previously unknown relatives all of whom are very nice and all of whom are at the end of another computer in other countries.

Also, they have a certain criteria that they use to determine your ethnicity, as does every other DNA testing group out there, and each will get different results based on the data they use as their base line.

If you might get upset because you have a trace amount of African or Mongol DNA you might want to hold off. If you realize that it is a best guess and that, if the science is correct and we are all out of Africa so you will have some trace DNA. If you understand that they break down the globe into different zones but people are not tied down to the land (and somewhat promiscuous) so genes get mixed…a lot…. then do it and enjoy your results; the gift from your girlfriend.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I was going to do the DNA test, not to do family tree stuff, but just to see about ethnicity. They make you pay for the kit and attempt to activate it before giving you the TOS. When I started reading that I knew there was no way in hell I was going to. I returned the kit and haven’t thought of it again, other than a scathing review. Please know what you are doing before agreeing to it.

https://thinkprogress.org/ancestry-com-takes-dna-ownership-rights-from-customers-and-their-relatives-dbafeed02b9e/

Mariah's avatar

I work for a company that isn’t Ancestry but does collect DNA from people for medical research purposes. The regulations are pretty strict and we wouldn’t dream of doing anything with people’s DNA that isn’t above the board. Also if someone contacts us and asks us for any reason to destroy the DNA samples we have on hand from them we have to comply. Dunno if that helps you relax at all.

I haven’t done Ancestry, but I did 23andme, and I learned fascinating things about my family from it. My dad’s dad isn’t who we thought he was! I have a bunch of half aunts and uncles I never knew about and I’m going to go meet them in July. Getting my DNA tested has made my life immeasurably richer.

gondwanalon's avatar

Any time that there are people doing anything, mistakes will be made. This is also true with DNA testing labs where labs techs may be slaving away under a mountain of never ending specimens. Many types of mistakes are possible.

I tend to believe the DNA results that “HomeDNA” generated from my DNA. My last name is Irish but my DNA is 10% South American Indian. No wonder I can’t grow a good beard and have grey eyes.

seawulf575's avatar

We just had a family scandal pop up because of Ancestry’s DNA testing. My step-father-in-law who is now well into his 80’s just did one of these things. The Ancestry website popped up a leaf when he had the results. It was a woman who lives where he used to live. Turns out when he was married the first time he had a fling with his wife’s best friend. She got pregnant, had the baby in secret, and gave it up for adoption. This was his daughter. I guess the moral of the story is to be careful what you are looking for because you might find something you don’t expect.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Ancestry has affiliates that they share information with.
I therefore use Familytree.DNA.com website for years as they do not share information with any body else.
It warns members who submitted test NOT to share your information with other agencies etc
However if agreed with whomever that you share , usually relatives, or others on the same site one agrees not to share outside those perimeters.Some belong to Heritage.com genealogy site and share pedigree info for that purpose of connecting to Ancestors information.
Also FamilytreeDNA.com warns NOT to transfer results to Gedcom international site as it is not guaranteed security then.

flutherother's avatar

A serial killer in Californa has just been arrested after being identified from genetic material submitted to a genealogy website. Joseph DeAngelo is his name.

LadyMarissa's avatar

It’s not Ancestry.com but if one is caving, others will follow…
https://www.yahoo.com/news/police-used-genealogy-sites-match-002902936.html

The most unnerving part of this story to me is that I don’t have to give them my DNA but I can no longer trust my own family to keep my personal info private.

I have been considering having my DNA tested but I can’t see the need to waste my money!!!

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

Is there a difference between ancestry.com and ancestrydna.com ? Because I just realized it’s ancestrydna that my gf gave me. The two sites look different but they’re clearly the same company. Weird.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

That’s smart when you anticipate lawsuits.

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