AncestryDNA Map Reveals Matches’ Locations—and Yours

AncestryDNA Map Reveals Matches’ Locations—and Yours

The new AncestryDNA Matches Map puts your location on a map alongside locations of your genetic matches. It’s a great tool for identifying matches who live in certain regions, but raises serious privacy concerns. Here’s how you might consider protecting your location.

A new tool has appeared to help you sort your AncestryDNA matches: a Matches Map. It’s currently shown as being in beta format, so it’s still being rolled out and tested. You can find it on your DNA Results Summary page along the top menu bar, shown below:

ancestrydna map locations

 

When you click on the Matches Map, you’ll see a map of your locations and those of your genetic matches. Just to clarify, you’re not looking at your shared ancestral locations but at your personal locations, as indicated in your Ancestry profile. My map looks like this (with privacy-protection circles over my matches’ initials and photos and my own location shown in red):

ancestrydna map locations

Of course, this can be a super helpful tool for identifying genetic matches who are associated with locations of interest on your tree. My first move was to click on my matches in England in the hopes they were associated with my father’s side because I’ve been researching his British Isles roots recently. Matches who have remained near an ancestral location sometimes know about local sites associated with your family (say, where relatives lived, went to church or were buried). Sometimes they have family artifacts, since their branch of the family didn’t pack up and move far away.

A WikiTree user commented on another positive aspect of the Matches Map: “It’s nice to see just how far your relatives have spread out. I have connections in not only just about every US state, but as far away as Australia and New Zealand.”

Privacy concerns with Matches Map

Despite its genealogical value, this map tool raises privacy concerns. Many people are interested in personally connecting with biological relatives. Genetic genealogist Roberta Estes points out in an article on her blog, DNA-Explained.com, that a city and state, in combination with a person’s name (which often appears on an Ancestry profile), make it easy to locate someone physically. That means your biological relatives could feasibly find and visit you without permission or notice. To some, that may be a welcome thought; others may find it alarming or even dangerous.

As Estes points out, you can change your location on your Ancestry profile, whether you want to give yourself some additional privacy or you want to make your location more relevant to your research (for example, if you have moved far away from any locales associated with your family). Click on your user name, then click Your Profile. At the top of the profile, you’ll see your current name and location, and the option to edit it. Mine was more specific, but now it reflects that I live in the United States:

ancestrydna map locations

Learn more about protecting your privacy when participating in DNA testing for genealogy. Read this essential Q&A with The Legal Genealogist Judy G. Russell and Family Tree Magazine Contributing Editor Sunny Morton.

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