A few days ago, I was hitting the refresh button time and again. There was confusion and worry. Maybe it was just down for maintenance. Maybe it would come back. It would come back soon, right? It didn’t come back. What would happen now?
No, Facebook wasn’t down. GEDmatch wasn’t loading one-to-many reports for forensic genealogists working with law enforcement kits.
People who died alone and unnamed, who had lists of thousands of genetic cousins contributing to helping them come home to their loved ones, suddenly seemed to yet again have no family.
After a time, an option appeared on the site to allow users to opt-in to matching with law enforcement research kits. Emails were not sent to GEDmatch users. The terms of service were updated again to note that users would not be contacted via email but would only be notified via an announcement on GEDmatch’s main site in the event of policy changes. This announcement will not be seen by anyone who does not independently visit the site.
A few users here and there started opting in – a small handful out of the thousands that were there before. Cases involving people of color are clearly the most affected.
Some users may never know what happened. Some haven’t checked the site in years, or only ever visited once when they first uploaded. Some are deceased. Some don’t understand the situation well enough to know what needs to be done, or the impact of this decision on cases in progress or pending. Some have been swayed by the influence of fear-mongering and panic over privacy concerns, despite the site being entirely based on voluntary upload and crowdsourcing.
At this point, the future of law enforcement cases in GEDmatch rests in the hands of the public whose DNA has been contributed to the database. It’s up to you to take the few minutes to go out of your way, go to genesis.gedmatch.com, log in, and manually opt-in to matching with law enforcement.
Hope isn’t lost for forensic genealogy, and it is not lost for the trans Does we are trying to help get into the DNA Doe Project case list. (Please read the DDP’s announcement on this issue.) If you’ve never uploaded to GEDmatch, please do so now, and opt-in when you upload. If you can attach a family tree, it’s even better. If you want to see cases getting solved at the rate they have been in the past year and a half, we will need your help to build GEDmatch back up to the incredible resource it was.
By Anthony Redgrave, Trans Doe Task Force