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Face Lift
11/12/2009
If you’re a social networking junkie, Facebook’s genealogy apps will fuel your addiction.
Facebook, the hugely popular social networking site, makes it easy to share news and pictures of the latest happenings in your life with friends and family. But hundreds of third-party applications—“apps” for short—add still more features, such as games and quizzes.
 
Now you’ll even find genealogy apps for Facebook. We’re Related and Family Tree let you stay in touch with your family, find relatives, locate new family members and build your family tree. Neither one has anywhere near the range of features you’ll find in desktop genealogy software, but both apps can help you take advantage of Facebook’s large user base to grow your family tree.
 
To access the genealogy apps, click the link to Applications in the lower left-hand corner of Facebook’s home page and click on Browse More Applications. Type family tree in the Search Apps box and press Enter. Then click on an app’s name and hit Go to Application.
 
You get started with either app by first indicating which of your Facebook friends are your relatives. Then the app sends a message letting them know that you’ve added them as relatives on the app, and inviting them to add their relatives. This chain letter strategy has helped the apps expand rapidly, and it could also broaden your network of relatives.
  • We’re Related: One of the most popular Facebook apps, We’re Related, has more than 17 million active users.
The FamilyLink bar links to the app’s various parts: Family Stream shows Facebook news pertaining only to your relatives. Find Relatives lists possible kin—people with whom you share known relatives—and invites you to add them as friends. My Relatives shows your relatives and pending requests. Click on a name to go to that person’s home page.
 
My Tree is where you build your family tree in We’re Related. Starting with yourself, fill in blanks for first and last names, date and place of birth and e-mail address, and add photos. (Developers say support for GEDCOM files is coming.)
 
You can also include date and place of death for other relatives and add information on your direct ancestors and other relatives. Click on a name to go to the person’s individual page where you can add more events, such as Census, Immigration and Residence. You also can add documentation, but We’re Related doesn’t have the sophisticated source citation features you’ll find in desktop genealogy software.
 
To view other trees in We’re Related, click on My Relatives, select a family member, click on his or her Trees tab and then on Send View Tree Request.
  • Family Tree: Though similar to We’re Related, Family Tree has unique features. You can type in your family tree online, but to save time you can upload a GEDCOM file from your desktop genealogy software.
The General Settings tab lets you control who gets access to your tree—only you, the relatives in your tree, all your friends and relatives, or everyone. Group trees let you and your relatives collaborate on your family tree. Everyone given access to a group tree can edit it and see all the changes.
 
By using the Family Tree app daily, you can earn “family dollars” applicable toward the purchase of a DNA test from the makers of Family Tree.
 
In addition to Facebook, Family Tree works on MySpace, Bebo, Hi5 and Orkut. For quick access to the app, go to FamilyBuilder.com.
 
While We’re Related and Family Tree are still a bit rough around the edges, new features, such as the ability to search for names in other users’ family trees, are sure to make Facebook increasingly popular with genealogists.
 
GenSeek Peek
FamilyLink, the company behind We’re Related and the subscription genealogy site World Vital Records, has another card up its sleeve: GenSeek, another Facebook app, will let you do an enhanced search of the Family History Library catalog and will link to online records. We’ll post updates on our Genealogy Insider blog.
 
December 2009 Family Tree Magazine
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