This week's chat topic is inspired by blog posts that were posted in Roots, our main chat room.
This month, genetic testing company 23andMe was in the news because of a planned change in the way they presented information about matches on their site. There is a check/tick box which the user must select in order to see matches from close relatives on the site (you have to "opt-in"). 23andMe had planned to change that on September 12, 2014, so that new customers were automatically opted-in, and had to choose if they wanted to "opt-out" and to have their close relatives not shown. (They planned to give older customers a choice of opting in or out.) They have since decided not to make the change.
Links to blog posts about this story are here:
- Genetic testing brings families together (And sometimes tears them apart), by by Julia Belluz on September 9, 2014 (posted on Vox.com)
- With genetic testing, I gave my parents the gift of divorce Updated by George Doe on September 9, 2014, 7:50 a.m. ET (also from Vox.com)
- a response, DNA Buys the Truth, from the blog DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy
How much should DNA companies warn people about the perils of unexpected DNA results?
George Doe says:
I would want a warning saying, "Check this box and FYI: people discover their parents aren't their parents, they have siblings they didn't know about. If you check this box, these are the things you'll find." And I'm the one with my PhD. I understand how this works. But I didn't think through all of the practical implications, in part because I thought, "This wouldn't happen to me."
Should 23andMe and other DNA testing companies be required to warn people about what most genealogists already know -- that if you start digging, you may find things you didn't expect, or want to know? Or is it reasonable to assume that people who sign up for DNA testing should know what they are getting into? Is it right for someone to ask other family members to give up their privacy?
Come and talk about these and other societal and ethical issues around DNA testing in this week's chat.
I'll mark this post as 'Community Wiki' so you can add other news stories and blog posts on the topic of DNA testing and what happens to families when the results aren't what they expected. Thanks to @ColeValleyGirl for the link to DNA Explained, and to @bgwiehle for the pointer to "Hoosier Daddy".
Another story of what can happen when your family's story is, shall we say, interesting: the blog Hoosier Daddy, where blogger Michael Lacopo talks about his family's adventures with DNA testing (for best effect, start with Beginnings and read the blog in chronological order).
The chat will continue all week so everyone can join in until a new topic (the Monthly Workshop session) starts on October 4th.
If you have any ideas for future topics, post them as answers to Weekly genealogy chat topics - now a week long event! and they might be used in an upcoming week!