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I never thought I’d ever meet my best elementary school friend again. We parted more than twenty years ago and I’ve never heard from him since. But then comes one of the wonders of the internet: Facebook, and everybody knows the rest of the story.
My story is not the only story. These “meeting with old friends” stories happen all the time along with the growth of social networking. It’s always nice to have the good old days visit us out of the blue once in a while.
And because blood is thicker than water, the event would be so much nicer if the ones who visit us are our long-lost family members, wouldn’t it? With the help of FamilyLink, that surprise where you reconnect with family could happen anytime soon.
Familiar Faces In The Book
FamilyLink is a free web service that will “help you find and stay connected to your relatives“. FamilyLink integrates very well with Facebook. So well that people might think that it was built to complement Facebook.
And you know what, maybe it is. The logic is: instead of building a totally new social network, why not utilize the one that already exists?
As with any other web services out there, you have to register first before you can use them. Or you can login if you already have an account with the service.
There are two kinds of login that you can use, the FamilyLink login or your Facebook login. If you already have a Facebook account (like almost everyone who uses the internet these days), you can just use that.
In fact, if you’ve already logged into your Facebook account, you will be automatically logged into FamilyLink using your Facebook account.
Finding & Adding Family Members
FamilyLink has a similar interface to Facebook. So if you’ve been around Facebook long enough, you’ll feel right at home.
There’s the “Notification & Request” pane on the right sidebar telling you the general status of your “family affairs”.
And there’s the more detailed information below. You can easily click the “Add as Relative” button to change the “possible” status of your relatives to “confirmed”.
When you click the button, the “Add Family Contact” window appears. Here’s the place where you confirm your relationship with this relative.
You can add more relatives by specifying their names and email addresses, finding them using the address book in your email account(s), or adding them from your Facebook account.
You can also bulk add your relatives by listing down their email addresses.
Adding relatives using your friends list in Facebook is another quick way to add many relatives at once. You can go through the list one by one, or type the names to get quicker results.
The people you choose will get a relative request from you.
The process of adding relatives from the address book of your email account(s) is called “Magic Relative Finder“. FamilyLink will try to relate and match the names in your address book with the names of people already in your family list.
Let The Tree Grow
Another unique feature from FamilyLink is the ability to create a family tree. Click the “Tree” link from the top bar to enter the tree area. Here you can drag and drop your relatives to their nearest family member, starting from your closest relatives.
For example you can drag your siblings, parents and spouse. Then you can continue connecting the dots by dragging other relatives related to them, such as your brother and sister in laws, uncles and aunts and so on.
Every time you drag a relative to a name in the tree, FamilyLink will give you four options to add him/her: as a parent, as a spouse, as a child, or as a sibling.
Click one of the options, then add their email to notify them of this addition. You can skip the “Add Email” step if you want to.
Little by little, your tree will grow. My generation is the first in my family who are Internet and Facebook literate, so it’s a bit difficult to find the links to other relatives that I found as FamilyLink doesn’t give the option to add relatives as cousins.
Keep In Touch & Stay Updated
After all the efforts of finding your long-lost relatives, you would want to reconnect with family and keep in touch with them. FamilyLink gives you the tools to do that. From asking questions to your family members, updating your family status, and monitoring the updates from your relatives.
It’s similar to Facebook, but with the family touch.
What’s your opinion on keeping in touch with family members in the virtual world? Have you tried FamilyLink? Do you know other alternatives? Share your thoughts and opinions using the comments below.
Image credit: left-hand