It can be difficult to delete a family tree or even a single individual from Geni.
In some circumstances, you will not be able to remove every tree profile that you added to Geni. This depends on whether your tree is isolated or if it is shared with other Geni members.
This article goes through your options for removing your profile and other tree profiles from Geni.com.
Is Your Geni Family Tree Shared Or Isolated?
If Geni considers your family tree to be “Shared”, you will have difficulty removing it entirely – even if you added every individual yourself.
A family tree becomes Shared in Geni in two circumstances:
- One or more tree profiles have been merged with another member’s tree
- You invited another Geni member to share your family tree
In contrast, your family tree is isolated (and more easily deleted) in these circumstances:
- You haven’t connected a profile to anybody else’s tree
- You haven’t invited anyone to share your family tree
Why is the Shared aspect so important? Because Geni’s terms and conditions put strict limits on what you can do with a Shared tree.
Shared Trees In Geni’s Terms and Conditions
When you create an account on Geni.com, you must agree to the Terms & Conditions.
Many of us don’t actually read these walls of text, particularly if we’ve been using an online family tree platform elsewhere. You should make an exception for Geni’s eyebrow-raising terms. Or read this article, which will explain their approach.
You may think you already know what to expect from another genealogy platform. I mean, your tree is your tree, right? Wrong! Having a family tree on Geni is completely different from having one on Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.
If you’re not familiar with Geni’s concept of a shared tree, it’s worth reading our article on the Geni World Family Tree for background.
Geni’s terms and conditions say that once your tree becomes Shared, then you are not allowed to delete content “except to correct inaccurate or offensive data”.
Deleting As Willful Destruction
In Geni’s eyes, a Shared tree has multiple owners. Suppose you added your maternal grandparents and great-grandparents to Geni. You then merged a great-grandfather’s profile with the tree of a second cousin. Now you can’t remove these grandparents from Geni.com.
Because they are also part of your cousin’s tree, Geni would consider their deletion as willful destruction. The terms and conditions actually mention “willful destruction”. Do you think that’s a bit strong? Well, how about a spot of arboreal vandalism?
Geni invites people to act as official Curators. One Curator responded to a request to delete a tree with this rather ominous observation:
Since the tree has other members, deleting profiles would probably be considered vandalizing their treeGeni Curator
How To Delete An Isolated Family Tree on Geni
If your family tree has no other members and is not connected to Geni’s World Family, then it is an isolated tree that may be deleted by closing your account.
When you close your account, the Geni software examines the tree profiles you added and decides if their deletion will impact any other member’s tree. If it’s a stand-alone tree, then Geni will delete it.
To delete an isolated tree on Geni.com, follow these steps:
- Expand the drop-down menu under your account name
- Click the Account Settings menu item
- Use the “Close Account” link
- Click the “Close Account” button at the bottom of the page
If the Geni software decides that your tree is not shared, then your account will be deactivated. The tree profiles that you added will be deleted, including your own.
But what if Geni spots a connection between your tree and another member? You will be offered other options to “donate” the content that you added to Geni. We’ll cover that in the next section.
My Test Of Closing A Geni Account With An Isolated Tree
I created a new account on Geni and added a small tree that was unconnected to the World Tree. I followed the steps above to proceed through the close process. Sure enough, this account was kicked out of Geni with a cheery message:
Thank you for using Geni. Your account has been closed.
If you really want to remove specific profiles, I suggest you try to delete them individually before you deactivate your account.
How To Delete Your Account When Your Tree Is Shared
I spent a few hours trying to figure out what happens in this scenario. My “real” tree doesn’t hook up to the World Tree so I couldn’t test the process.
One support page states that three donation options are on the “Close Account” page. Well, they’re not there now.
My guess is that they magically appear when you hit the Close button and Geni figures you have shared profiles.
The lack of transparency is poor in terms of customer relations and has generated considerable support requests over the years.
This is what I’ve pieced together from the very many complaints and requests for deletion on the Geni support threads:
When you try to close an account with a shared tree, Geni presents you with two options:
- Donate tree profiles to a specific Geni member
- Donate tree profiles to the Geni community
From what I can gather, donating to the “Geni community” means that a Geni Curator will manage the profiles.
If you go with either option, your account will be deactivated.
I recommend that you manually delete details from your tree profile before you complete the deactivation. Remove any uploaded files that you prefer not to leave behind.
How Do You Delete A Shared Family Tree In Geni?
You can’t take unilateral action to delete a Geni tree that has other members.
To delete a shared family tree in Gene, every member of the tree must close their account. When the last account is deactivated, the tree will be deleted.
Exceptions: Sometimes Shared Trees And Other Profiles Are Deleted
The Geni curators have the power to do what you cannot do – delete profiles and shared trees.
The support pages are full of requests for profile deletion. As far as I can tell, these user requests are rarely granted unless there was a system glitch that created bad data.
However, there is at least one case where a user complained that her tree had been removed by someone else. It turned out that a curator had deleted the entire tree in the belief that it was a piece of fiction. She had spotted a picture of a famous actor in a tree profile:
Here is part of the exchange:
Curator: “Geni is for real people. Your father looks like Clive Owen.”
Geni Member: “I didn’t have an actual picture [of my father] handy.”
The curator eventually restored the tree. It’s one of the funniest support threads I’ve ever read.
Are Deleted Tree Profiles Really Deleted?
It’s clear from the previous section that deleted trees and profiles on Geni.com aren’t really…deleted. In the case I described, the tree was no longer visible to the Geni member who had created it. But the Curator was able to restore it from it’s “deleted” status.
This is called a soft deletion. A hard deletion is complete removal of the data.
If you have concerns about your own tree profile and are a citizen within the European Union, you do have the protection of GDPR.
Geni.com has complied with at least one GDPR request to remove all details of a living person. This must be a hard delete.
I know this has happened once because the actions had a knock-on effect on another Geni member. That person raised a support ticket about missing people in her tree. You can read the details at this link.
How To Delete A Tree Profile In Geni
To delete a tree profile that you manage in Geni, follow these steps:
- Click on the profile in your tree
- Expand the “More” menu item
- Click the Delete button
Can You Delete Multiple Tree Profiles in Geni?
If you want to remove multiple tree profiles in Geni, you have to delete them one at a time.
There is no option to remove a branch or multiple descendants.