Fake Family Software

Status: Hoax-facilitating software
Genealogists are in an uproar about new software that allows people to create fake (but real looking) online family trees. The program is called Fake Family. (Because of the controversy, the website of the software maker is now given over to an Open Letter to Genealogists.)

Genealogists argue that the fake information created by this program could easily find its way into real family history databases. They also charge that the only purpose of the software is to create webpages that will lure people with false information, and then profit from advertising links.

The maker of the software, Don Harrold, defends his creation by insisting it's very unlikely that a serious researcher would be taken in by the information Fake Family produces. For instance, the software will often list people as being born in cities before those cities existed. He also makes a curious point:

The people most upset about Fake Family seem to be folks who have a RELIGIOUS reason for being upset. (However, if I was going to be baptizing people who had passed on, I would do more research than just "grabbing names" from a website.)

Does this mean there are people who do genealogical research in order to retroactively baptize their ancestors? Can a dead person be baptized? I had never heard of such a thing.

Anyway, Harrold's basic argument is valid enough. The internet is so full of misinformation that anyone who uncritically uses historical information they find online is asking to be misled. But having said that, it sounds like the purpose of his program is to create spam (spam that clutters search engine results rather than email inboxes). And spam in any form should be condemned.

History Identity/Imposters

Posted on Sun Nov 13, 2005



Comments

The baptizing of the dead is a Mormon/LDS practice, I believe. Being neither Mormon nor religious, I couldn't comment on the details, but I think they refer to it by a less gruesome sounding phrase.

Incidentally, I seem to remember a story on Snopes that referenced this practice.
Posted by hippievet  on  Sun Nov 13, 2005  at  10:04 PM
The story is at http://www.snopes.com/glurge/birdies.asp

Goodness, I've got a lot of time on my hands tonight!
Posted by hippievet  on  Sun Nov 13, 2005  at  10:13 PM
I should have known that about Mormonism. I think I did know it once, but forgot it.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sun Nov 13, 2005  at  11:03 PM
hippievet beat me to it. Yes, retroactive baptism is a Mormon thing. A fun little cult, aren't they?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  12:47 AM
My brother-in-law's parents are Mormons and they told my sister that if she dies before them, they'll get her baptised. She told then to f*#k off.
Posted by Nettie  in  Perth, Western Australia  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  12:53 AM
In my freshmen year, two students did an "independant project" wherein they outlined how the two of them were actually related by some strange coincidence involving WWII. One of them was asian and one of them was white. As far as I can tell, the teacher bought it, and the two students didn't really have to do any work.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  02:34 AM
Anyways, are they no longer doing fake family trees? I'd like to see one. I think it's stupid that they'd devote their entire webpage to defending a service which they've discontinued.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  02:35 AM
Nettie said:

"My brother-in-law's parents are Mormons and they told my sister that if she dies before them, they'll get her baptised. She told then to f*#k off."

Since they're Mormons, chances are they'll do it anyway, against her wishes. Perhaps your sister should have it put into her will that she does NOT want to be posthumously baptized, so that there can be no question about her intentions.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  02:55 AM
The LDS has caused an uproar in recent years because they have been baptizing victims of the Nazi holocaust in WWII.

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/West/12/10/baptizing.the.dead.ap/

From the article:

"Mormons believe proxy baptisms give those in the afterlife the option of joining the religion. It's primarily intended to offer salvation to the ancestors of Mormons, but many others are included."

I'm not sure I want to be a Mormon. Even after I die.
Posted by BugbearSloth  in  earth, 3rd planet, sol system  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  07:59 AM
1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 29: Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?


It's in Corinthians. It was a biblical practice. And yeah, Mormons continue (revived?) the practice.
Posted by Laura Gjovaag  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  10:47 AM
I'm glad noone in my famliy is mormon. Just to be safe I'll put that I don't want to be baptized after I die.
Posted by Dany  in  Waco, Texas  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  10:53 AM
Come on let's go a little easy on trowing the word cult around. Some people that enjyo this sight might even be Mormon. (Yes, we do use the internet.)
Posted by Matt  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  01:50 PM
Matt said:

"Come on let's go a little easy on trowing the word cult around. Some people that enjyo this sight might even be Mormon. (Yes, we do use the internet.)"

Please explain to me why LDS is NOT a cult. No, the size of your church's membership doesn't exclude it from culthood.

Oh, by the way, do you wear your magic underwear when you're surfing the Internet?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  02:29 PM
Don't worry about being unwittingly turned into a Mormon, Nettie. I remember that the International Jewish Conspiracy had an ad on their website offering a de-baptising kit. I can't remember their web address, though; perhaps Winona could be of assistance?
Posted by Accipiter  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  02:32 PM
Matt and Cranky MG: great bumper sticker I recently saw speaks to your discussion:
RELIGIONS ARE CULTS WITH MORE MEMBERS
Posted by tidewater tootsie  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  03:54 PM
Having once been a Mormon, I know that:

You can tell everyone you know that you don't want to be baptised by proxy after you die,you can put it in your will, you can tatoo it across your forhead, you can have it sung by Celine Dion and played by ice cream trucks, you can hire a team of mimes to spell it out in bodies in the street at your funeral...you can do all of that and more and they'll still baptise you.

They DO call it "Baptisms for the Dead".
Posted by Gee...  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  03:59 PM
That bumper stickers funny. I guess it all just depends on your definitions of religion and cults. To me a cult is a society that use methods to force people in and keep them in. I don't see my chosen faith as being that.
Posted by Matt  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  04:00 PM
Tidewater Tootsie said:

"Matt and Cranky MG: great bumper sticker I recently saw speaks to your discussion:
RELIGIONS ARE CULTS WITH MORE MEMBERS"

That's how I see it, for sure.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  01:22 AM
matt said:

"To me a cult is a society that use methods to force people in and keep them in. I don't see my chosen faith as being that."

No one EVER thinks of THEIR faith as a cult. Have you ever heard anyone say, "Hey, let me tell you about my cult?"

Question: Is LDS really your "chosen" faith or were you born into it?

Oh, and ARE you wearing your magic underwear?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  01:24 AM
No use for it in Alabama. Or..?
Posted by The Legend  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  01:58 AM
The Mormons can be a pain. Many of my ancestors were miners in Staffordshire (England) and they didn't consider it worth marrying a girl until she was pregnant. Result wass that a high proportion were illegitimate. The Mormon side of the family, about 100 years ago started inventing fake marriages and changing surnames to sanitise the family history and it has taken years to get rid of their mess. If you ever need to use their family history site, I suggest that, when it says the record is from parish records, it is believable. If it is submited by a Mormon, forget it.
Posted by John  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  08:02 AM
Oh, and Mormons also posthumously baptist Native Americans. I know of some pretty pissed off indigenoue folks. The whole apres death baptism is the reason they keep meticulous geneology records. And I want some magic udies!
Posted by BethCA66  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  02:20 PM
Hell, they can Baptise me if they want. It won't offend me anymore than if a witchdoctor danced a jig around my dead corpse before they bury me. I'll be dead and beyond caring.

In fact, that witchdoctor thing sounds cool. I wonder how I go about hiring one for my service. My religious family members would just freak. Yup, gonna hafta look into this. Now, how to convince my parents to comply?
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  02:25 PM
"The Mormons can be a pain"
-John

You're right, they ARE a pain; what with their magic undies. Plus I think Red Indians with their silly feather hats and druggie peace pipes are pretty dumb too. Don't get me started on Jews and their stupid prayer shalls and girley braids. Don't foreget Catholics and their gross "wafer is body of Christ" mumbo jumbo. They're all weird, if you ask me, we should put them all in camps...
Posted by In Agreement  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  02:35 PM
Um...those "silly feather hats" are actually war bonnets and not part of a religous ceremony. Oh, and those "peace pipes" are not filled with wacky tobaccy. But that's not the point.

The issue isn't whether or not Catholics, Jews, Native Americans, etc. have odd religious beliefs. The issue is whether or not it's okay for someone to baptize you after you're dead without you converting to Mormonism of your own free will. Some people feel pretty strongly about it.

And as Charybdis in Hell said, we're not going to care much after we're gone. Well, unless you're chillin' in Christian heaven, someone baptizes you, and WHOOSH, you're transported to Mormon heaven. That might suck if all your buddies are in Christian heaven. But, if you're in hell, maybe Mormon heaven would be a nice change of scenery.
Posted by BethCA66  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  03:12 PM
I think I'm with Charybdis on this one. I'm just not going to care by the time I'm dead. If anything it's rather funny.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  06:41 PM
bethca66 said:

"I want some magic udies [sic]!"

Somewhere on the Internets, there is a Mormon Store, although I doubt it's actually named that. It should have what you're looking for; technically, they're called a "garment," if I remember correctly.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  01:17 AM
In Agreement said:

"You're right, they ARE a pain; what with their magic undies. Plus I think Red Indians with their silly feather hats and druggie peace pipes are pretty dumb too. Don't get me started on Jews and their stupid prayer shalls and girley braids. Don't foreget Catholics and their gross "wafer is body of Christ" mumbo jumbo. They're all weird, if you ask me, we should put them all in camps..."

Well, except for the putting them in camps part, I agree. It's all superstitious nonsense. Hey, I was forced to EAT Jesus on many occasions when I was a child. For those who don't know Catholic doctrine, the Holy Roman Church considers the communion wafers to actually BE the body of Christ after a certain point in the Mass; it isn't supposed to be merely symbolic.

According to Catholic dogma, an actual no-shit MIRACLE occurs at each and every Catholic mass right in front of your eyes when the priest turns a piece of unleavened bread into the actual body of Christ. It's called "transubstantiation". That's a hell of a thing, huh?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  01:22 AM
argh, i hate it when someone tries to force their religous beliefs on you, and doing it posthumously just seems like bad taste (especially when connected to the holocaust where many (not all) of the victims were jewish and its seen as a great jewish tradgedy) but as someone once said "what do the dead care? they're dead"

someone also said "those who want to share their beliefs with you rarely want you to share your beliefs with them"
Posted by joeodd  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  01:31 AM
If a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wishes to baptize by proxy someone that has been dead for less than 90 years, that member must get permission from the closest living relative of the dead person. So all of you that are worried about being baptized after you die, as long as you make your wishes known to your family members, you won't have to worry about that for about 100 years.

For those of you that are concerned about being baptized by a Mormon: If the Mormon church and its doctrine are false, then what's the worry about being baptized after you're dead? It really won't make a difference. On the other hand if you get to the after-life and find out that the doctrine is true, wouldn't you regret telling all of your family to make sure that you're never baptized by proxy?
Posted by elscotty  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  03:41 PM
elscotty said:

"For those of you that are concerned about being baptized by a Mormon: If the Mormon church and its doctrine are false, then what's the worry about being baptized after you're dead? It really won't make a difference. On the other hand if you get to the after-life and find out that the doctrine is true, wouldn't you regret telling all of your family to make sure that you're never baptized by proxy?"

Hey, here's an idea--how about you guys just honor the wishes of people, even those who disagree with your faith? Why do you feel the need to FORCE it on others?

Seriously, is the BEST argument you can make for your beliefs that it MIGHT be right, so therefore everyone should just go along with it? Do you not see how generic that is? Any belief system could use that "logic." You'd have no problem if I inducted you into the Church of Satan without your permission? After all, it *might* be the correct belief, so what harm could it possibly do?

Silly, silly, silly.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  04:42 PM
Cranky Media Guy,

I am not arguing the LDS beliefs or attmepting to convince anyone of the doctrine. Also, I am not advocating forcing anyone to become a member of a demoniation that they do not wish to be. You read way too much into my post. I just wish to understand why someone might get upset at the idea of someone (with misguided beliefs or not) baptizing you 100 years after you have died.

Do you believe that if you are baptized after you have died that you will be "forced" to be a member of a demonination that you do not want to be?

To answer your question: If you "inducted" me into the church of Satan without my permission, and I am dead, I really could care less. I don't believe it will affect me either way whether there is an after-life or not.
Posted by elscotty  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  03:06 PM
elscotty said:

"Do you believe that if you are baptized after you have died that you will be "forced" to be a member of a demonination that you do not want to be?"

No, it's all nonsense. What I DO believe is that people should respect the wishes of other people. If I don't want to be baptized, how about you just DON'T DO IT whether I'm alive or dead when you perform your silly little ritual?

As I see it, it's as if you were to put my name on some petition I don't agree with after I have died. No, it won't "hurt" me but it goes against my wishes. If I haven't consented to it, don't assume that it's okay to do, whether I'm here to argue or not.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Nov 18, 2005  at  01:03 AM
First of all, they aren't "magic undies". Temple Garments are an outward expression of an inward commitment. They are a reminder of the covenants you make with Heavenly Father, not some underpants that will give you the winning lotto numbers.

And to all of you who are so adamant about not being baptized after your death and do not want to be FORCED into a religion: in my beliefs, you have the CHOICE, to accept the Gospel after your death. So if you're so afraid of "being Mormon" then so be it.
Posted by Scott  on  Tue Jan 10, 2006  at  11:04 PM
Scott said:

"First of all, they aren't "magic undies". Temple Garments are an outward expression of an inward commitment. They are a reminder of the covenants you make with Heavenly Father, not some underpants that will give you the winning lotto numbers."

Oh, they DON'T give you the winning lottery numbers? In that case, I DEFINITELY don't want to be a Mormon. Man, you guys are sure testy about the "magic underwear" thing. I remember when I was doing a morning drive radio show in Boise, Idaho; talking about "magic underwear" was a sure-fire way to get Mormons to call in.

"And to all of you who are so adamant about not being baptized after your death and do not want to be FORCED into a religion: in my beliefs, you have the CHOICE, to accept the Gospel after your death. So if you're so afraid of "being Mormon" then so be it."

As you well know, the LDS church believes in post-mortem baptism so, in a sense, you DO force people into your church. I don't believe in this nonsense, but you guys DO, so if you say it doesn't make any difference, why do it at all?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Jan 11, 2006  at  02:00 AM
"As you well know, the LDS church believes in post-mortem baptism so, in a sense, you DO force people into your church. I don't believe in this nonsense, but you guys DO, so if you say it doesn't make any difference, why do it at all?"

Because we believe it's a commandment. Baptism is only half of it. The second half is you have to be confirmed a member of the church by the laying on of hands. We obviously can't do that once your dead, so that' is your free agency on the other side. If you so choose to not follow the Gospel then so be it. You won't become one of those "cultish Mormons", even in the afterlife.

"Oh, they DON'T give you the winning lottery numbers? In that case, I DEFINITELY don't want to be a Mormon. Man, you guys are sure testy about the "magic underwear" thing. I remember when I was doing a morning drive radio show in Boise, Idaho; talking about "magic underwear" was a sure-fire way to get Mormons to call in."

I'm done arguing about this. I'm not trying to convert anybody. I just wish people would be a little more open-minded. Don't you have any convictions? Wouldn't you be upset if someone openly mocked your deepest beliefs?
Posted by Scott  on  Wed Jan 11, 2006  at  11:32 AM
Scott said:

"Because we believe it's a commandment. Baptism is only half of it. The second half is you have to be confirmed a member of the church by the laying on of hands. We obviously can't do that once your dead, so that' is your free agency on the other side. If you so choose to not follow the Gospel then so be it. You won't become one of those "cultish Mormons", even in the afterlife."

The dead do not have the ability to consent (or NOT consent) so you guys just go ahead and do what you want. Nice.

How about respecting the desire of the living to NOT be subjected to your little rituals. Have it done to yourselves or those who want it but leave the rest of us out of it.

As for my personal beliefs, knock yourself out criticizing them, I'm not that touchy. Besides, being challenged about your beliefs makes you use your brain. Why should I fear criticism?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Jan 11, 2006  at  06:03 PM
There is a difference between criticism and open mocking of over-used stereotypes.

"The dead do not have the ability to consent (or NOT consent) so you guys just go ahead and do what you want. Nice."

So what is this argument about in the first place?

I'm glad we had this little "debate", if you will. It has strengthend my testimony.
Posted by Scott  on  Thu Jan 12, 2006  at  01:40 AM
Scott said:

"There is a difference between criticism and open mocking of over-used stereotypes. "

Please explain to me what I've said that is not accurate.

I'm glad that you've managed to avoid any rational examination of your superstitions and will persist in clinging to them. I'm sure that's very necessary to you.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Jan 12, 2006  at  02:28 AM
"Please explain to me what I've said that is not accurate."

By whose point of view?

"Magic undies" is one example. A serious criticism involves respect. Refering to something that is sacred to millions of people across the globe as "magic undies", is not very respectful.

"I'm glad that you've managed to avoid any rational examination of your superstitions and will persist in clinging to them. I'm sure that's very necessary to you."

Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. - Alma 32:21
Posted by Scott  on  Thu Jan 12, 2006  at  05:46 PM
The Nazis hated the Jews...

It seems that there are a few Mormon haters here which probably have more in common with the Nazis than the topic that touched off the discussion.

The real issue is that the Fake Family Software was designed to trick Genealogy researchers into clicking on organic search results that matched the names they were searching for online.

Once the Geneaology researchers landed on the Fake Family site the creator hoped they would click on adsense ads or other links that pay them for each click they get.

The argument that the Fake Family results could not possibly corrupt Geneaology research online is a weak one since the entire purpose of the fake sites is to trick researchers into visiting them.

Here is a more full account of the opinion of the creator of the fake family program, the detractors, and the family tree software company threatening to sue the creator of "Fake Family" which has apparently been taken down since heat was put on him:

http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,635160683,00.html
Posted by Josh Anderson  on  Tue Jan 31, 2006  at  03:13 AM
Okay seems like no one understands the whole baptizum of the daed. First of all if there are living realitives to the person being baptized they would have to have there permission before submitting their name. Secondly if you were baptized after you were dead you have the option to accept it or deny it. Look up john 3:1-10. after reading that look up 1 cor 15:29. We believe that everyone must be baptized to enter into the kingdom of our heavenly father. So baptizums of the dead is preforemed for those who have not been baptized in their earthly state. I have been to the temple to preform baptizums for the dead and I witness unto you that I have felt the joy of those people who's names were being called. I know that we have a heavenly father and that he lives and loves us and has sent us a prophet to guide us in these latter days.
Posted by Mindy  on  Fri Feb 24, 2006  at  01:25 PM
Okay i have something else to add. First of all they are not called "magic undies" they are called GARMENTS. What is wrong with us having diffrent undergarments than everyone else. Our under garments are modest is that a bad thing. Plus in order to be able to have garments you have to have a temple recommend from your bishop. Every one says that Mormons are a cult. Why is this? Is it because that we don't beleive in drinking alchol, or smoking. Some people say that is being controled. I say that if you become fond of drinking or smoking you become addicted to it thus causing you to be "inslaved" to something that is beyond your own control. Smoking and drinking have been proven to cause health problems and even death. So is it a bad thing that we don't partake of these such things? We belive in strong Family values, maybe that's why we are called a cult. being that in today's society the family is no longer the most important thing anymore.
Posted by Mindy  on  Fri Feb 24, 2006  at  01:58 PM
Posthumous baptism? That's for amateurs.

The Mormons do POSTHUMOUS WEDDINGS! That's right, they scour through the death registers for unmarried or widowed women who recently died and marry them to men of their church who also recently died. There's some religious reason for it, something about unmarried women not being able to get into heaven and men having their own planets to rule in heaven or something, I don't know. Point being, they think they are doing your grandmother a favor by marrying her again after she is dead in some weird little backroom ceremony.

They got caught out doing this in Mesa, AZ, a few years back and their researchers were banned from accessing the official Maricopa County registers, but I doubt that slowed them down much.
Posted by Some Guy  on  Thu Mar 23, 2006  at  03:34 PM
i hate mormons and the proselithistic stuff, they were stalking at my family, once they even entered to my house without asking, we threw them out, but is awful the way they disrespect people and impose they'r stupid (stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid) beliefs onto everyone, even kids.
I've heard that they have a very shady credit borrow (?) policies.
And... well you dont have to be very smart to see how they sicollogically abuse of weak people, they're like ticks feeding of puppies. Awful.
i hate mormons and they'r magic undies and people living in the sun ideas.

http://www.rotten.com/library/sex/masturbation/mormon/
Posted by Some girl  on  Mon Jun 05, 2006  at  10:57 PM
Love to see everyone is still posting their opinions based on over used FALSE stereotypes.
Posted by Scott  on  Tue Jun 06, 2006  at  06:35 AM
I'm not basing my opinion in a FALSE stereotype.
It just happens to be in that way, if they just washed your brain and you dont think it is so, go...
just
assume that is crappy to be a mormon but some day all the normal and mentally sane person would be in hell while you enjoy salvation. HA-HA-HA.
Posted by some girl  on  Thu Jun 08, 2006  at  09:05 PM
"i hate mormons and they'r magic undies and people living in the sun ideas."

that completely discredits any of your arguments.

I'm sorry that you feel my beliefs are stupid. I never attacked your beliefs. All I did was stand up for my own.

Please, tell me which LDS beliefs bother you the most, perhaps I can straighten things out.
Posted by Scott  on  Fri Jun 09, 2006  at  12:32 AM
i dont have special beliefs,ergo there is no way you attack my beliefs.
i dislike the proselitism of mormons.
is you feel like keep on discussing or you feel so sure of you beliefs you shoud try by sending me an email.
its van i dosa@ gm...com
Posted by some sick girl  on  Wed Jun 14, 2006  at  10:01 PM
Do those come in Magic Thongs also?
Posted by Poopah  on  Wed Jun 21, 2006  at  05:48 PM
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