Use Facebook To Find Family
First, we do not recommend searching through posting and asking people to share. Even though these campaigns have had limited success http://findmyfamilymagazine.com/adoptee-finds-birth-mother-through-social-media/ most don’t succeed and people can continue to share these posts for years even though you have found your family. It is like emptying a feather pillow out the window and trying to get them back once you post your information on the internet. Another reason not to look in this manor is that you don’t know the circumstances if you were given up for adoption. Your chances of having a successful reunion are better if you don’t start by possible airing dirty laundry or embarrassing someone. Thirdly, you are giving a lot of people your personal information that could be used for identity fraud. Facebook is not a short cut. That said, Facebook can offer a wealth of information. You can check on matches, friends of matches, find emails, and send private messages.
There are more than 1 Billion users worldwide on Facebook. If you don’t already have a Facebook.com account, you only need to sign up on the register page. It is free to use and will open up a whole new world for you. You will be given a profile page to post a picture of yourself or whatever you want to post and will be given the opportunity to find people on your contact list. You can also use the search bar to find people by their name or email address.
Let’s say you have a match on AncestryDNA of a third cousin and they have their user name as B Einstein. You could search for a B Einstein and see what pops up. You can usually see who the friends of the person are even if they have their privacy setting on. Do any of their friends have the surname Einstein also? If so you may be able to go to their page and do some looking around. Some people have their Facebook profile public and you can get all kinds of information about them such as kids names, friends names, etc. It is pretty easy to piece together families on public pages.
Use Facebook to find family using surnames. Look at the locations of the people with the surnames you are looking for. If you know you were born in Plano, TX, take a good look at the people that have both the surname and the location around where you were born. If you have non-identifying information about a career path, filter for that also. If the Non-Id said they were in nursing school, then follow that clue. When you use the Facebook search and get a list of Barb Einstein’s, use the “ “See more results for…” at the bottom of the page if you have eliminated the first 7 results. Then click “People” and in the “Hometown” blank put in the city you were born or city that some of your matches have in common. There is also a filter for high school. This is another helpful filter that might lead you to the person you are looking for.
Let’s say that you are looking for a birth mother with the last name Holihan and you can’t find her in the Facebook search. You know she would have graduated high school around 1965. You know that several of your 2nd cousin DNA matches are from nowhere, AL. You can search for people using the filter for High School and find people that graduated from Nowhere, AL high school. You can run through those and see who would have also graduated around 1965. You can go to the pages of those people and see who their friends are and use “search friends” and see if you can find her that way. Many graduating classes have their own Facebook page, so be sure to search “Nowhere, AL” and “Nowhere, AL alumni.
When I was looking for my family, I knew that a surname of Campbell and of Revels were 2 of the common surnames. Searching on “Revels”, up came the “Revels Family” page with the genealogy of the Revels and there were pictures of relatives I had only seen names for on Ancestry. Obviously the more unique the surname, the more Facebook may be able to help you.
Facebook has a messaging system. You can narrow down a search for a person then if there are still 3 people with that name, send them messages telling them that you would like to communicate with them about a relative in common. If you are adopted, don’t tell them that, you might scare them away. There are people that don’t want to get involved with family drama.
If you are using GEDMatch.com (like you are supposed to), you have the email address of your DNA matches. You can copy and paste those in to the search bar in Facebook and find their profile page. Depending on their privacy settings you may be able to learn about their family and “Search Friends” to find people with the same surname or drill down to all the friends’ pages and see who has public profiles and posts. People usually make references to “My grandkids”, “We were at Mom and Dad’s for Thanksgiving” and other clues that could fill in a lot of gaps for you.
Facebook searching works both ways, so if you are searching for someone, that person could be looking for you. You can use your top banner or profile picture to put your information out for public viewing. You can use Fiverr.com and have someone make you a nice header with all the important information like Date-of-Birth, Birth City, GEDMatch number, and Surnames, and make your profile public.
Using the information from your DNA matches, family tree information, and your Non-identifying information, you may very well be able to use Google and social media to find your family.
Many of these Facebook techniques can also be used with MySpace, Linked In, and other social websites. Twitter is a giant message board and can send your message out to millions of people if you work on building a following. There are currently 320 million active users. It is possible to filter users, pay people $5 to tweet your information to all of their followers, and other techniques. If you are going to try using Twitter to find family, you should treat your quest as a marketing campaign and read articles on how to get your message out to as many people as possible on Twitter. Also you can take the list of user names of your matches from Ancestry or one of the other sites and add a “@” to it and plug those in Twitter and see if you can find your matches on there. They may be more likely to respond on that platform than on 23andMe.