Monday, December 5, 2022

Bringing My Cousin Back to Life and Getting Rid of Scraped Photos on FamilySearch

Yesterday I stumbled across an unexpected discovery: Someone unrelated to my family had created a profile for my 1c1r on, marking her as "deceased." 


My cousin is very much alive and well, as I know from speaking with her last week! I hadn't added her to the Family Search tree and I was flabbergasted to find her there, before her time.  

Changing status to living

The help center of Family Search explains how to change my cousin's status to "living." This is important for privacy reasons, to be sure living people are not visible in the collaborative family tree.

At top, an excerpt from the process. You can find more detail here. More than one person had contributed to my cousin's profile, so I had to submit a request to the system administrator. UPDATE: My cousin is no longer visible on the tree!

Getting unauthorized photos off the tree 

That same contributor also scraped family photos from public Ancestry trees that feature my family and posted them on FamilySearch. Without permission from the copyright holder, photos cannot be simply taken from an outside source such as Ancestry and posted on FamilySearch.

Shown here, one of the photos posted as a "public memory" on an ancestor's profile (see arrow). At bottom right of screen (see orange oval) is the name of the contributor. I clicked on the contributor's name and sent a message, saying I recognized the photos as being taken from Ancestry and I wanted those photos removed.

I further noted that unless permission was specifically granted by someone in my family, posting photos taken from elsewhere violates the FamSearch terms of service. See the excerpt below for background on this specific issue:

Unless the family photos are removed quickly, I will submit a report to FamilySearch. The last time this happened, with a different contributor, my message resulted in family photos being removed within 24 hours.

Have you visited or followed your ancestors lately?

If you haven't visited your ancestors on FamilySearch lately, I suggest you take a look now. Be sure no living relative is visible and mistakenly shown as deceased. At the same time, you might want to check for family photos copied without authorization from outside sources and pasted on ancestors' profiles.

You can "follow" any ancestor visible on the tree and receive weekly notifications of any changes made to that person's profile. While my cousin's status is set to "deceased," I can follow her profile and see when and if her status is changed to "living." I'm also following dozens of other ancestors, mostly to monitor research updates made by cousins and other interested parties.

This helpful article explains exactly how to "follow" someone shown on the collaborative family tree. Go ahead, follow your ancestors!


  1. This, in a way, reminds me of the people on Find A Grave who have to be the first to create a memorial. It's terrible that someone would add to FS that a person they don't even know was deceased plus scrape photos.

    1. I don't dare tell my cousin what happened. She doesn't need the aggravation!

  2. So glad you found this!

  3. Thankyou for posting. Copying family trees and photos seems to happen rather a lot. I found family photos and trees reposted from Ancestry to WikiTree by someone quite unconnected with our family. Contacted her - she did it because she liked the photos!!! My granny would not have been amused!!!

  4. Thanks for this blog! Very helpful to have the details on how to report and remove inaccurate family/ancestor information along with scraped photos. Agree with Linda about Find-a-Grave as well.

  5. Thanks for the heads up on contacting an admin! I have changed info and have messaged others to remove info, etc, and most have, but putting a living person on there, especially if they're not even related, is a no no. I could see how you could chnge it as a contibuter, but they could also change it back, thus needing to have admin take care of it. I have had to report photos from my published books being put up on FamilySearch. :)

  6. This happened a while back with an aunt. An acquaintance had added her to the FS tree and listed her as deceased. It took a bit of back and forth to get it fixed, but it was eventually, and she was very apologetic.