Syrian Immigrants Inappropriately Flagged as "Confidential"
In case you are unfamiliar with the Arab immigration of 1870-1920, Wikipedia states, “Arabs immigrating prior to that decade [1920s] from modern-day Lebanon were regarded as Syrians and were a predominantly Christian population.”
Example: Assad Elias (L5V7-7ZZ), father of Victor Elias Sr (L5NQ-ZKK). I am assuming that you will be able to see Victor’s page, but not that of Assad, Victor’s mother Farida, or his two older siblings. Because of this unnecessary FSFT designation, descendants of Victor and his younger siblings will see an incomplete branch of the family tree and they will have to duplicate my research. Likewise, I will not see sources that they locate. It is difficult enough to research these immigrant families, and I’d like the same opportunity to collaborate as others do.
At first, I attempted to create a “parallel universe” of Assad and his wife as a duplicate line that I hoped would remain public, but eventually FSFT found them and made them Confidential, too!
Assad and Farida are long deceased (1943 and 1911, respectively), and everyone in south Louisiana knows that they are Syrian or Lebanese immigrants. There is an entire community of Syrian/Lebanese families here with the names Elias, Ackal, Ashy, Sarkis, John, Mahfouz, Boustany, etc. As a family, we are very PROUD that Assad and others took the risk of leaving the turmoil and religious oppression in Turkey and starting over in south Louisiana! There was significant intermarriage in the first generations that lived here, but most of this is “invisible” to FSFT users because of the Confidential designation!
These families struggled as Christians in Turkey and faced more hardship once they arrived. In one newspaper clipping that I have, there is a report that Assad’s bakery burned to the ground and on the same page is the notice that his daughter had died of the flu (1918 epidemic). However, I am unable to share these documents with others via his page because FSFT thinks it is shameful that we are descended from Syrian Christians!
Can anything be done to end this conversion of my ancestors to Confidential status, solely due to their country of origin? And, not just for the ancestors listed above, but for all Middle Eastern immigrants, as I need access to others’ research on the extended family. Please note, however, as I noted above, I asked to have these ancestors made Public, and FamilySearch Data Administration refused.
Virginia Florence Horvath said: I would add the sources that you find under the memories stories and photos tab, at least until you are able to get this worked out. Then other relatives are able to find those documents too. You can also write up a story regarding the ancestors and attach/pin it to all the members of the family.1
iLoveMyLife02 said: True, but a person expanding the family tree in Landscape would not see these items. They wouldn't see the ancestors who have already been researched and entered.1
iLoveMyLife02 said: I found this on an old thread. I don't really understand the concern, and I'm not sure it applies to my ancestors, in any case.
"Confidential are usually the ones that are sensitive such as Middle East records, they are deliberately kept hidden to protect the families who did ordinances."
Adrian Bruce said: Just to confirm what I (as a non-member of the LDS church) can / can't see.
A search for PID L5V7-7ZZ gives a message "No results found".
I can see the Person page for Victor Elias Sr. (L5NQ-ZKK). He has no parents on that page or in the tree view. What's bad is that there is a direct invitation on both those screens to "Add Parent". Now, for obvious reasons, I didn't try to add one, but it does appear to me that this is a direct invitation to duplicate data.
Surely there should be a place-holder for Victor Elias' parents to say, "Confidential Information" and a link to explain why humanity can't see the data. At least if that place-holder were there, we would know not to try and add his apparently missing parents.
Now, before anyone tells me that the best principles of confidentiality obscure the fact that something is actually there but hidden, you should consider this: Amongst the sources for Victor Elias is the 1910 census,which makes it quite clear who his parents and siblings are! Confidential? I think not...
And again, if I go to the Source Linker for the 1910 census record, there is an invitation to add "Assard" and Farida as his parents.
This isn't just a theoretical risk to data integrity - it's actual. Were I investigating the Jones Family of Louisiana or wherever (which I'm not), I could quite easily end up finding Victor Elias marrying into my lot and therefore being public spirited and adding in the supposedly missing parents and the supposedly missing links to the source.
Now the only reason that I'm looking at this is because the IT side of this issue is interesting. There's a whole new(?) sort of person that would be needed to produce confidential place-holders - assuming confidentiality is indeed required, which I have no opinion on. So it's not a 5 minute job. But I am definitely saying that something needs to be done because there is an invitation to create duplicates here.0
Paul said: Confidentiality in FamilySearch mainly covers the hiding of details of living persons on their person pages in Family Tree, as well as those of the type of person ("Confidential") mentioned in this post. As Adrian points out (along with other good points), much of this detail is public and available in FamilySearch collections. Also, there is nothing stopping users from adding full details of living persons (say children), for all to see, on a deceased person's record: in the Life Sketch, Discussions or Notes sections. Data protection / privacy laws are usually quoted as a reason to keep information private in Family Tree, but this practice is effectively unworkable.1
Adrian Bruce said: Yes - Mind you, I wouldn't want to go overboard on the degree to which confidentiality is workable and what its limits are. I think we're all a touch dependent on people's good sense not to misuse free format text. Or maybe laziness - anyone stupid enough to want to splatter the details of living people in Life Sketch etc, might very well be too lazy to actually do so - or even to know that they could. Not a very good bit of logic, perhaps, but it's all we've got while we have free format text.
I think, though, that a specific invitation to add parents (presumably creating the duplicates) is a different matter.1
Same thing is happening to me! My great-grandfather was a Syrian catholic inmigrante here in Argentina. And FamilySearch has mark him and all his deceased family as "confidential".
I deleted the "place of birth" information and leave it blank in the hope that will make them public.
I don't want them to be private. I want them to be public so I can have the chance of research more about that branch of my family.
Is there something I can do?
I can't even erase them to create them again, neither merge them with duplicates. It's all blocked.
Please help! This kind of ethnic segregation in the site has no sense at all!1
I just encountered this problem while working on my cousin-in-laws family who immigrated from Syria to Mobile, Alabama in the late 1800's. It saddens me that these families who were Christians seeking religious freedom in America so long ago are still persecuted and discriminated against by familysearch.
Familysearch may think they are protecting the "sensitivities" of certain religions but in fact they are causing the descendants of these people to feel discriminated against.
This policy needs to change.3
I just found this out myself. I assume that the LDS church is worried about persecution of their members in Syria and Algeria. Bizarrely it made confidential a French citizen who died in the Algerian War in 1956. The ironic part of this is that the information is blocked from family members while the intelligence agencies of those countries would be able to hack into the Familysearch database if they wanted the information. It feels to me that the persecution is occurring "here", by pretending family members do not exist. It feels like surgery performed with a chainsaw rather than a scalpel. Of course the best solution is to not have temple ordinances on Jews and Muslims, whose leaders find it offensive. Also the Pope stopped cooperating with Familysearch over the same issue.0