Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Too Many Connections?

Dear Madame L,

In your review of, near the end of the article, it talks about being scammed due to family relationships, similar to what you mentioned in a previous post. 

I just became aware of a Facebook app (at least, I think it's an app--I'm not sure) where you can enter all sorts of familial relationships and have this program come up with how many "degrees" of relationship you are away from any given person, such as one of your Facebook friends, or a celebrity. It's called "Kin2," as in "Who are you kin to?" 

While I think it's a pretty cool thing to figure out, I'm nervous about the fact that it uses the very public site of Facebook as its interface. I've made a point of not accepting Facebook "relationship" requests in the past, specifically because I don't want the whole world to know if or how I'm related to my Facebook "friends." 

But this Kin2 seems to take those relationships to a whole new level, tying them in to your family tree and everything. With all the identity theft going on in the world out there, and other kinds of scams as well, I'm really nervous about putting that information out there. 

What do you think about that, Madame L? Have you heard of Do you think it's legitimate and safe and all that?


Too Many Connections

Dear Connected,

Madame L had never heard of until she read your comment. She typed in her browser and found that it doesn't appear to be a real website, but a portal for people who want to buy the that name and/or register for it.

Madame L would have gone to her Facebook page to look for the "Kin2" app there, except that she has stopped using Facebook once because of the intrusive apps and information collection going on there; and is seriously considering stopping again, once and for all. 

This is because Madame L feels very uneasy about those apps and others like them, to the point that, like you, Madame L has declined in the past to accept invitations from friends on Facebook who are also relatives. (Madame L feels that everyone she's related to knows they're related, and Madame L doesn't see the need to broadcast that information.)

Similarly, Madame L doesn't accept every invitation from the very nice people at to be linked with every person she has ever worked or rubbed elbows with. 

Madame L has also very recently had the experience of someone telling her, "We looked you up on [some genealogy site] so we could find out who your mother's mother was and where you were born." That didn't bother Madame L because that someone is a relative, but Madame L is bothered by the idea that anyone, related or not, and for whatever purpose, friendly or not, can access that same information...

...And, therefore, any scammer can call you to tell you that Aunt Louise, for instance, is stranded in Mexico City and needs you to wire a thousand dollars, and can tell you when and where she was born, who her husband and parents are, and so on...and you might, being the kind and generous person you are, send that money. 

So, Madame L hopes you'll resist the temptation to use that app. Please write again to let Madame L and her other Dear Readers know what you've decided. 

And, other Dear Readers, if you would like to contribute your own opinion and experiences to this discussion, please do so, because we all benefit from each others' experiences and knowledge.


Madame L

1 comment:

Ellen said...

I just realized I gave you the wrong information before. It's not, but rather Interesting play on names, eh? Kin to Me. I am not planning to use that website, no. I learned about it from this news story, that was posted on Facebook by "Mormon Times," a business that I "like."

The thing that bothers me is that neither this news story nor the webpage seem to care or mention the very concerns that you and I have. And if a relative looked you up on a genealogy website, specifically to find your birth place and your mother's mother's name, then, wow, that is NOT good. Those genealogy websites are supposed to list living people as just that, living--no name or other identifying information.

Anyway, I just sent an email to that news station that says: "Where is the information that tells about the dangers of identity theft by linking yourself up with all your relatives and friends by entering names and dates into some online database? I've gone to this website,, and I find nothing that explains any privacy safety nets. Will you please find out about that for me? The concept is great, but the repercussions could be devastating."

I'll let you know if or what I hear back.