Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Twitter Trending to Announce Release of Private Information


Ancestory.com is paying for the hash tag! I was wrong when I said the government paid for it!
Ancestory.com is highlighting the release of personal information from the government.
I was totally going to ignore this blog posting on the Dept. of Commerce blog because I thought it would be bad to highlight this. Unfortunately I was on twitter and saw something that became a "wtf" moment. It was in the trending box when I saw this:
Can you see that promoted hashtag? #1940census

What is this about? Releasing private information from the 1940 census.

Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves gushes on what a treasure trove of information this is for genealogy. He is the genealogist of the family and only has family history ranging from 1670 through 1930. He can't wait to get his hands on the information to help complete the family tree.

What? A lot of families have their family tree recorded in a Bible. Many families track this in some way as people are born. Limited family trees usually go from the present back 100 years, not back 300 years with a gap from the present to 70 years back. I'm sure he must know who his parents and grandparents are, but his post says he doesn't. The post is just disingenuous.

Is it possible that something bad can happen from releasing this information? That is unknown. Information by itself can be harmless, but tying together bits of information becomes intelligence. What's the worst that could happen? Paranoia at the tilt here, someone distantly related to you in a "blood feud" has a nut job foe that tracks you down. Fantasize your own nightmare scenario. Maybe even identity theft can get involved.

So why is this a "wtf" moment? A promoted hashtag is an advertisement. A hope for viral marketing paid for by your tax dollars in hopes that everyone will know the government is releasing personal data. Aren't you glad the government taxes you?

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