Venmo Gets More Private—but It’s Still Not Fully Safe

from Wired

VENMO, THE POPULAR mobile payment service, has redesigned its app. That’s normally news you could safely ignore, but this announcement is worth a closer look. In addition to making some navigational tweaks and adding new purchase protections, the PayPal-owned platform is finally shutting down its global social feed, where the app published transactions from people around the world. It’s an important step toward resolving one of the most prominent privacy issues in the world of apps, but the work isn’t finished yet.

Venmo’s global feed has for years been a font of voyeuristic insights into the financial habits of total strangers. The feed doesn’t display amounts for a given transaction, but names and notes emoji and likes are included. Tapping on a name brings you to that user’s profile, and an enterprising busybody (or worse) could pretty quickly build a small dossier of that person’s friends, their hobbies, and anything else they’ve slipped into the stream—without, perhaps, realizing how public that info can be. In the time it took to write these paragraphs, relatives reimbursed each other for Phillies tickets, someone made a payment for “liquid gold ?,” more than one set of roommates split their internet bill. 

The visibility of Venmo transactions and other user data has been criticized by privacy and consumer advocates for years. “This commitment to this weird corporate bit, this corporate DNA, of a social payment app is a huge liability,” says Gennie Gebhart, activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group. “It’s not a disaster waiting to happen, it’s a disaster that’s already happened so many times to so many people.”

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27 Comments

  1. In this article I read, Venmo Gets More Private—but It’s Still Not Fully Safe, author Brian Barrett essentially goes over how public Venmo’s platform was and how they have made adjustments to it in order to allow for less transparency on the app regarding purchases, etc. He also points out that while Venmo has made these privacy changes, the app still really isn’t that safe when it comes to keeping your purchase history and other information private. I personally have never used Venmo, but I have friends who use it and I was shocked to read about how much this application normalizes the publicity of everyday transactions to the entire world. This app is essentially a social media for individuals’ purchases, except they don’t have control over what they post, the information that is being put out there is way more private than what is put out on a typical social media page, and the worst part is that users do not even realize how transparent they are on this application. Even after reading about the updates this app has made, I still would not consider using it, unless I absolutely had to. The fact that even after the update, users information is still not private by default and they have to go through all these settings in order to change it is simply mind blowing. They should put users on the most private settings by default and give them settings options that allow them to manually select who they would like to allow to see their information on this platform.

  2. Venmo has revolutionized the way people send and receive money but is it safe and confidential? In the article, Venmo Gets More Private—but It’s Still Not Fully Safe by Brian Barrett, it talks about the structural issues within this app and how people don’t know how public their info is. I personally didn’t know how much of your info is out in public as people can see what you write and who you are making transactions with. I use Venmo more than most and this makes me nervous to use it. Its a convenient way to send money to my friends when we are eating or if someone forgets their wallet, they can use Venmo. My Grandparents use Venmo and it worries me that someone could go to their account whenever they want. Venmo should make it a choice if you want to have your transactions public or private. Allowing users to make their accounts private would solve many of these problems and make their app even more intriguing. This app was revolutionary but these internal issues are going to scare a lot of people away after what has happened with Facebook and other online companies. I don’t want people getting my info from an app. To wrap up, Venmo is a great app in the idea of allowing people to make easy transactions with a click of a button. I believe if they fix their issues with Accounts and allowing people to be private, the sky is the limit.

  3. I was immediately drawn to this article due to the popularity of Venmo in Gen Z. It has changed the way many of us carry money, as Venmo is a virtual method to transferring money from one’s bank account to another party’s account. I continue to observe a reduction in cash usage among this generation. On one hand, it is encouraging to see over time, the company has improved with some of the lack of privacy and protecting users’ payments from anyone else see. It is hard to understand the upside of users being able to go under global payments and can see anyone’s transactions, as well as your payment having the opportunity to appear on the global feed. The article discussed previous Venmo settings which gave me a different perspective of this whole scenario. I just got familiar with Venmo one month ago, so I was not a user years ago when users had a very poor level of privacy. The current state of Venmo gives an aware user many options to keep information and transactions private, so today users cannot be as disappointed with the lack of privacy. I do agree with the point the writer made that criticized how the app will make new users public by default. It wouldn’t be logical for any new user to have their information public because society views finances as a private matter. It is concerning the app does this to its new users because it questions the reasoning for why it would prioritize making their information public. Venmo has made progress towards giving users the ability to protect users’ financial information, but the app still has strides to take in protecting casual users’ financial transactions. It shouldn’t change the reliable and heavy users’ usage of the app, but consumers who are interested in electronic payment applications should access this knowledge into determining if this is the correct application for them to handle their transactions.

  4. It’s a funny coincidence that I just created a Venmo account a few days ago before I read this article. It seemed strange to me that you could privatize the account in the settings. It was literally by accident that I came across this setting option. The author, Brian Barrett, points out that most users are not aware that all information is available to everyone. Even the data of the President of the United States was accessible to everyone. Everyone could see what Joe Biden has spent money on. The new option to privatize his profile is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. I think it should be a requirement that a platform on which you make money transactions is only accessible to you. Money transactions are quite intimate matters that usually involve two parties. We are in an age where everyone shares everything with everyone via social media. But Venmo clearly exceeds this transparency when it comes to money transactions. Venmo almost feels like a social media platform to me. The first intention of Venmo was certainly not to present itself as some kind of new social media platform but to make the various information available to be used by marketers. This behavior is very opportunistic and is not acceptable. Of course, Venmo is a commercial enterprise and wants to make as many profits as possible. However, Venmo also has a responsibility to be transparent with its users. Barrett made a good point, that “losing the global feed is an important step toward privacy for Venmo and its users. Hopefully, more steps are still to come.” So, there is still more to be done to better protect the privacy of users. My suggestion would be to better inform users about public accessibility before and during use. And as already mentioned before to activate all possible privacy settings before the first use. The users who then really want to share all their transactions with the public can then change this in their favor in the settings.

  5. In the article “Venmo Gets More Private- But It’s Still Not Fully Safe” Brian Barrett goes into the problems with the very popular Venmo app. For those of you who don’t know, Venmo is a mobile payment service which allows people to transfer money through an app on there phones. Barrett talks about how it was a problem how people could check the global icon and see what strangers are paying each other and almost be able to see into that specific person’s personal life if they had done some digging around. I have used Venmo for years now and never realized the repercussions that the global part of the app could potentially have. It is promising to see that Venmo is looking to improve the app, but it is troubling that the global feature on the Venmo app has been around for so long. Barrett also states Venmo still isn’t completely safe at this moment and time and might not be for a while. I don’t know if I’ll continue using Venmo if it isn’t 100% safe to continue using it.

  6. As a constant user of Venmo I enjoy seeing the funny things that my friends comment when they are sending money over to another friend. Yet, as a newer user of Venmo I would be lying if I said that I knew that my sending information was going out to the entire world. In fact, I just changed the settings in my app because it is information that I do not want to be out there. With hackers becoming more and more of an issue in our world sending money online is becoming riskier. Even without the use of hacker specific software it is easy to learn a person’s friends, hobbies, and other personal information that people could be displaying on the Venmo app without them even knowing it is going global. In fact, a team of Buzzfeed reporters were able to find President Joe Bidens Venmo account and find his close family and friends on the app in just about 10 minutes. Many people are trying to push Venmo’s creators to make their information more confidential which I very much agree with. I have probably spent and received hundreds and thousands of dollars on Venmo. In fact, I know people who use Venmo as their way of people paying them. Like mentioned earlier with the increase of hackers in the world, even the slightest hint of an expensive transaction such as an airplane or island emoji might be enough for a hacker to put in the effort to confiscate the transaction. The part of the article that I found the most interesting was the part where I discovered that Venmo is not private by default. Yet, Venmo isn’t the only one who doesn’t have this features many others such as Twitter and Instagram default your profiles to public. In fact, I would rather have just an emoji and a name displayed to the entire world than a personal photo that I just want my friends and family to see. Venmo is making more strives than say Instagram to keep people’s information safe by removing the global feed. This is a step in the right direction, I currently think where Venmo is at is perfect, you are able to mess with your friends while being able to make small transactions for say a meal at a restaurant. All in all, I believe overall that all social apps need to find a way to keep information more hidden to the rest of the world.

  7. All apps should offer a privacy setting so your information isn’t out there for the entire world to see. Especially an app like Venmo where you’re sending money to another user. What people don’t realize is that someone can easily set up a fake account just like any other app. People are too trusting when it comes to their information on an app. What they don’t realize is there’s so many hackers out there that can make these fake accounts and you may not consciously realize who you’re sending that money to. You may think it’s someone that you know but in reality it can be someone trying to get money out of you. These types of apps need to offer a more secure way of storing your information. Venmo is no different than let’s say Facebook, Instagram, or any other form of social media. Your personal information is readily available to the entire world. What people don’t realize is that whatever you post anybody can see it unless you have your account set to private. You hear so many stories of people getting hacked on these types of apps. Whether it’s someone hacking into your account and asking people for money or these people are making a fake account. With people making the fake account you may think it’s your friend but really it’s not. These users can easily find your information and make an account that is a mirror image to yours. Hackers nowadays are becoming more crafty and can do just about anything. This is why people really need to be careful about what they post and what personal information they put not only on apps but also on the web. People tend to forget that anyone yes I mean “anyone” can see that post that you just posted on Facebook or Instagram. Even the article mentioned that Pay Pal used to post people’s transactions for the world to see. The fact that this information is out there you can easily get someone’s information. People like to post their entire lives on the internet. They post things that are entirely too personal and what people don’t realize is someday that could really get you into some danger if you’re not careful. All in all people just need to pay attention and think a little more clearly before they post something for the entire world to see. Being conscious about what you post is very important because once you make a post you can’t make that post go away. It’s there FOREVER!

  8. Probably the only reason that I support decentralized currency is because I don’t like the general idea that companies or government should have a right to know where you can spend your money. I don’t even care if it’s just so they can try to advertise similar products to you, I believe they should have no right to track what it is that you buy with the money that you worked for. If you are not buying something that is a felony to buy or earning money by committing a felony, I think bat the government should be completely out of your business of your finances and that includes companies two. However, I am basically asking for an impossible in this day and age, the world has become more digitized Ben it ever has been before and there is now a virtual paper trail of every last aspect of our lives. However, I do think what we can do is not allow future radical steps to be taken that infringe on our privacy. By example some of our government is pushing for to have the ability to view all the purchases on any person with more than $600 in their bank account (pretty much anyone that is not completely broke). Collude to my initial point, what truly does concern me about decentralized cryptocurrencies is the fact the as of now they have not shown to show a consistent value. What freaks me out is that if most businesses accepted cryptocurrency, I don’t understand how I could by example spend 1 Ethereum on groceries in 10 years, then a week later spend 2 Ethereum’s. I do believe that there needs to be a universal constant that all Americans agree on as a form of trade for goods (capital). Before the digital era this was simply just named the US dollar. However, the US dollar is becoming more and more tracked for Americans and is part of the reason I believe that people are beginning to trust the dollar less and less. I hope that we can come up with a decentralized gold standard for trade in the near future so that society can go on with us having rights.

  9. Considering that I use Venmo a ton, it does not surprise me that it is not fully safe yet. I have friends who have been venmoe’d over 300$ from a random user. Apparently, if they were to transfer that directly to their bank account, than the random person that sent the money would have some way of getting the bank account information. The safest way to use venmo is to turn on “private transactions” so that the public can not see who you are venmoing. In reality, the only reason people keep public transactions on are to show what they are paying or receiving by using emojis or words. At that polint, it is not worth it. Hackers nowadays have more technology than anybody, so it is extremely important to make sure your accounts are safe. All social media apps need to find a way to keep all important information confidential.

  10. With the recent popularity of Gen Z going cashless, I was drawn to this article regarding Venmo. I rarely carry a wallet around with me and can go weeks without using a physical credit card as I rely on my digital wallet and other mobile payment services such as Apple Pay, Zelle, and Venmo to handle daily transactions. After reading this article by Brian Barrett, I have become weary of the safety of using Venmo as a payment source. The app’s public friend networks and social feed permitting reporters to uncover President Biden’s friend list after just 10 minutes of searching is shocking.
    This occurrence reminds me of the constitutional right to privacy as mentioned in Chapter 2 which includes the right not to have one’s personal matters disclosed or publicized. I did further research on Venmo failing to adhere to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which essentially requires financial institutions or companies to explain their information-sharing practices to their customers and to safeguard sensitive data. Venmo misled consumers about the extent to which they could control the privacy of their transactions and failed to adequately inform users of the app that their transactions were set to public by default which led to the Federal Trade Commission stepping in (FTC, https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2018/02/paypal-settles-ftc-charges-venmo-failed-disclose-information). In 2018, Venmo reached a settlement with the FTC related to its confusing privacy settings. As mentioned in the article there are those sensitive use cases with therapists, sex workers, and the president of the United States. Being able to opt-out of broadcasting the friend’s list by providing more privacy settings options is a necessary step for Venmo.
    Although Venmo eliminated its public global feed that showed payments to complete strangers, it still remains a liability for users because they have to actively seek the adjustment to make their contact list private. I am among those who would assume that as a financial app, Venmo would offer optimal privacy by default. Flaunting peer-to-peer transactions could be exposing users to cyberattacks and worse, hackers. As more consumers learn and become more informed about their privacy rights and how their public data is currently used, pleas from consumers to have their data properly secured and protected are expected. From now on I will opt for using Zelle which transfers money instantly without the fees Venmo charges and does not have a global feed. Venmo can improve its competitive advantage by seeking support from U.S. Banks like Zelle has as well as eliminating its social/broadcasting aspect. Social media has normalized making our lives so public but there should be a boundary especially when it comes to finances. They are slowly improving but I don’t see the importance of allowing anyone to view contacts.

  11. Due to my frequent use of Venmo, seeing this post “Venmo Gets More Private—but It’s Still Not Fully Safe” had me interested right away. Although I am not surprised that it is not fully safe yet, personally I have never run into issues when using the app. I agree with the fact that it does hinder someone’s privacy if their transactions are shown globally or locally.
    What I disagree with is that Venmo is completely unsafe. There are settings in the app in which users can change all of their transactions to be private. I saw in some of the earlier comments on this post talking about how people have the right to not have “one’s personal matters disclosed or publicized”. This would be relevant if there were no privacy settings that could be managed. Therefore, it is completely up to the user if they want their transactions to be public or not. If the privacy settings were not in place, then Venmo would be hindering on problems of unsafeness.
    To make people less scared of the “safeness” of Venmo, something the company could do is make transactions automatically private unless changed to public by the user rather than the other way around.
    Personally, part of the fun of Venmo is making up funny captions to payments between friends and seeing other public ones that are funny as well. Of course this is just a personal opinion and others may see the app differently. In the case of not feeling comfortable they could always be on private or use a different payment app until Venmo is at the place they feel safer.

  12. I was instantly drawn to this article because Venmo has completely transformed the way people go about money transactions, and I have always wondered why they have a global feed in the first place. Money transactions are not something that needs to be displayed to be seen by everyone; it only concerns the individuals involved in the transaction. As the article stated, so many app users have no idea that their money transactions are public to the world, and this statement holds for me. I used Venmo for about a year before I found out that the transactions were public. After I discovered this information, I switched the settings to private. I imagine many other people have had the same experience, which is why I genuinely believe that the default settings should be private by default. In addition, allowing strangers to view your money transactions is very dangerous because of hackers. There are so many intelligent hackers around the world these days. If they get a sense of an expensive transaction based on the emojis displayed, it will incentivize them to hack your account. There have been many instances of cybercriminals hacking people’s Venmo accounts, and I believe presenting money transactions for the world to see is part of the reason. Even with the global feed now disabled, I still think that Venmo is not entirely safe. Though the app provides some protection in fraud cases, there is still much more that could be done on the company’s part. However, I believe that some of the responsibility goes on the users too. Every Venmo user has to understand that there will always be a risk of hackers when you are transferring money electronically, and there need to be some precautions. For example, only deal money with trusted individuals, avoid using public wifi, and choose a complex password that is hard for a hacker to identify. Even though there is much more than the company could do to make their app more secure, every user’s responsibility is to take the necessary precautions to keep their transactions as private as possible because there will always be a risk of hackers when dealing money electronically.

  13. When I first started using Venmo a few years ago, I found it very weird how that I was able to see transactions from other people. Random names and messages were on the display when I first opened the app. Not knowing any better, I assumed these to be fake and just place holders until I made enough transactions to fill the display. I then realized that these messages were in fact real people making real money transfers. This alarmed me. Personally, I like keeping my business private, especially when it comes to money. In my opinion, this is a very strange development choice. Other money transferring apps like Cashapp, Zelle, or Paypal keep transactions private. Venmo being an off shoot of Paypal means that its main competition is Cashapp. From personal experience, more people use Cashapp than Venmo. Compared to the other platforms, Venmo seems to come off as more of a social media app. Almost as if they want other people to show off their transactions. If this is to make it seem like that people are always using their app or just as a unique feature that they fell in love with on the drawing board is unknown to me. The most alarming part of the article is the fact that the app might not be 100% safe to use. Since I often use my Venmo account to make purchases when given the option, I have a good amount of money sitting on my Venmo account. Any chance of something happening to my money is very alarming. The fix is simple for the team over at Venmo. A quick overhaul of the app will go a long way. Money apps should be private and straight forward. I doubt that anyone will miss the old app layout, especially after an article like this. If the team would rather keep the app how it is, making the privacy option default instead of the public one is also a step in the right direction. It’s just very confusing why the team behind Venmo has chosen to not change the app after all of the controversy.

  14. In the 21st century, there are numerous apps such as cash app, Zelle, Apple Pay, and Venmo that allow you to transfer digital funds from an account you link safely. I was interested in this article because it drew me back to the time when I was looking for an app that could wire my money to an individual safely. I remember researching Venmo and the way the app worked before making an account to send payments. It was a huge turnoff when I read that Venmo displayed a global feed of a person’s transaction history and had no way of converting an account from public to private. I wasn’t in agreement that an app that handles money “provides voyeuristic insights into the financial habits of total strangers” The inability of Venmo’s privacy is a reason why I personally never opened an account. As the article also points out, a person could get information on who you are friends with, etc. I wouldn’t want a stranger to divulge into my Venmo account and dox me. According to the article, Venmo has indeed removed the global transaction board and given users the ability to switch their accounts from public to private in order to keep things confidential. This is a huge step in the right direction for Venmo and may bring their customers more privacy, but I still don’t plan on doing any business through a website that had the beliefs to not allow a person to have a private profile through the app. All in all, there are different apps like Paypal and Zelle that seem much more secure in regards to a person’s privacy. These apps don’t outpour a person’s financial feed for others to view which is why banks and serious companies accept these forms of payments more than Venmo.

  15. In the article, “Venmo Gets More Private—but It’s Still Not Fully Safe”, by Wired, it discusses the privacy issues that the popular mobile app has. I am personally a user of Venmo and have been for a few years now, and have always not liked the fact that you can go to the global feed and see random peoples transactions. It is weird to think about people looking at my Venmo profile and seeing who I pay and what I pay them for. It does not necessarily threaten anybody, but it is just strange and not a good feature in my opinion. Hopefully the company looks at that and changes that aspect of the app. Venmo is a very useful app for people to have and is sort of a must have in the current world. Many people use the app and it is almost a default option to pay people online. When I owe friends or family money, the first thing I would ask is if they have venmo because it is extremely easy and efficient. With that popularity and usage in the public, they need to assure its users that it is safe and protects their privacy. They are on their way to being able to do that but are not quite there yet. Luckily they are working on it and it will get better, because they could just leave it alone and keep the same level of privacy within the app. If they were to do that, there would likely be nobody who stops using venmo because of that since they are using it now. As the app continues to grow and earn more money the company will hopefully use some of that to make it as safe as possible for its users and with that they will see even more growth. Venmo is a very popular app and with some privacy upgrades it will continue to thrive in today’s digital world.

  16. As college students, Venmo is a staple of life on campus. In the past, whenever one of my peers said they did not have Venmo I was shocked that they were able to survive the day without it. However, thanks to this article, I now understand one of the many reasons why they may not trust the financial app. I personally use Venmo for everything whether it be paying my friends back, paying rent to my landlord, requesting money from my roommates for bills, or paying back my parents for lending me money. With this large web of information, someone interested in my life could very easily log into Venmo and find my social connections as well as my spending habits, as this article discusses.

    From a standpoint of the law, having a financially based application broadly used online brings up questions about the internet jurisdiction over discrepancies or issues that may arise among users. Venmo is a federally regulated financial platform, therefore it must follow federal policies and laws relating to the disputes. After reviewing Venmo’s terms of services on their website, I discovered that if any disputes do arise, “the forum for arbitration shall be in the city closest to your residence having a federal district courthouse” (Venmo https://venmo.com/legal/us-user-agreement/). Since Venmo provides an easy way to transfer money across state lines, it makes me wonder how the city is decided if both the receiver and the sender are from different locations but both have a disagreement. It is important to be well versed on the terms and services of various platforms if a disagreement were to ever arise. Most people click to “agree” button without reading the full terms.

    Venmo needs to take all the criticisms of privacy and internet safety seriously before something bad happens to someone because of their app. They may be covered when dealing with lawsuits or disputes, but for the good and safety of their users, they should move forward with more privacy settings. Like the article discusses, some people are not even aware that strangers can view their transactions. These settings need to be rid of or explained in a clear and straightforward manner for everyone to comprehend. After reviewing this article and Venmo’s terms of service, I will be more careful about my privacy settings on Venmo. I do not see the app going out of style anytime soon, but we must be more careful to protect our identity, contact lists, and spending habits.

  17. As a frequent user of Venmo, this article certainly caught my attention. Venmo is one the most convenient apps you can have on your phone. If you go out with your friends and forget your wallet/money, you have Venmo that you can fall back on. There are other apps that have similar digital money transfer features similar to Venmo, but Venmo seems to be the only one designed almost like a social media app. I mean that in the sense that there was a visible timeline that you could look on to see strangers and friends’ transactions if they didn’t go out of their way to have their settings on private. Like the article gives examples of, this can get dicey if you truly don’t want others to have details on what you’re up to. Most people that use venmo may not even be sure that their settings are set to public or how to change them. This article touches on how to change your settings, but there are still workarounds and privacy issues present with the app. The fact that anyone could ever do something like search and find President Biden’s personal venmo account is a problem.

    Venmo has taken steps to try and remedy these privacy concerns, with the removal of the global feed, and making your contacts on Venmo private. Now, the app only shows you the feed of what your contacts choose to make public. However, Venmo still doesn’t have transactions as private by default, which leaves naive users public and unprotected. Venmo’s public API has been abused in the past, allowing anyone to sift through millions of records and allowing those who wish to use this access for bad a lane to do so. In the article, Dan Salmon states he wrote a short Python script that let him look through millions of payment records on the app. Venmo has tried to restrict how fast someone like Salmon could scrape their records, but Salmon says with a little more time he could easily develop another scraping tool. Venmo says scraping is against their terms of service, but those who wish to hack and do harm to others aren’t the ones who will care or even get caught. People like Salmon are just showing how easy it would be for hackers to get into Venmo’s system. Venmo’s past systems like the global feed exposed users to cyberattacks and hackers, and they’ve taken good steps, but users can still be exposed.

    Venmo needs to continue to prioritize user safety and privacy, while also being more honest with users about risks they may face using Venmo and things they can do to help secure their accounts, like using features such as 2-Factor-Authentication. 2FA is a security system that requires two separate, distinct forms of identification in order to access something. The first factor is usually a password and the second commonly includes a text with a code sent to your smartphone, or biometrics using your fingerprint for example (Kenton). Venmo seems to always be a step behind, and their steadfast reluctance to do things to make their app more secure like making payments private by default is puzzling at best. More communication with users would also go a long way. Venmo has gotten in hot-water before over their lack of communication about privacy with their users. The FTC claimed venmo violated Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s Safeguards and Privacy Rules by misleading users about the way they review transactions and can freeze funds or reverse transactions based on their review (FTC). With the main feature of your app being about transferring money and harboring people’s bank information, Venmo simply has to do more to support their users. Being more honest with users, providing more features to secure accounts and bank information, and making all accounts and transactions private by default would be steps in the right direction. In the digital age we’re in today, people will always try to find ways to abuse systems that apps like Venmo have in place.

  18. Many apps and websites are not as private as one would hope for them to be while using their services. Specifically like this article about Venmo, where financial transactions are exposed for the world to see. It is good to see that Venmo is taking privacy into consideration when updating the app, but it still is not as private as it should be, as per the article. However, it does seem as though the company is going in the right direction, and other companies like this one should follow suit. Although, considering how long Venmo has been around, it would make sense for it to be much more private than it currently is, and it is interesting to think about what is taking them so long to correct this issue.
    According to the article, the Venmo spokesperson Jaymie Sinlao wrote, “’At Venmo, we routinely assess our technical protocols as part of our commitment to platform security and continually improving the Venmo experience for our customers. Scraping Venmo is a violation of our terms of service, and we actively work to limit and block activity that violate these policies.’” Since they are continuously assessing the protocols in place, one would think that the developers and testers would immediately spot deficiencies and correct them or change things to make them better for the users.
    As someone who has used Venmo in the past, I found this article to be interesting and made me think about all the transactions I have made on the app and how practically anyone can view them. This is worrisome because people should not have such easy access to others financial movements seeing as though this can sometimes be dangerous and high risk. Also, in the article it states how, “ Venmo hasn’t made it especially easy for users to figure out what they are or are not sharing; in 2018 it reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commissions related in part to its confusing privacy settings.” A company that is based on financial transactions should automatically make the transactions private from the start, but even if they do not, then the privacy settings should be easily understandable and accessible for consumers to change. Typically, people like to use apps that are easy to navigate and seeing as though we live in a time where information is everywhere, it is important to have certain things, like finances, remain private and companies like Venmo should make privacy settings easy to understand.

  19. I often use Venmo, especially as a college student. I connect the app directly to my bank account and it is so convenient to use. I often use it as an way to pay friends or family. On the app, you can see a list of transactions from others. You can see who paid who and for what. All of these details are shared with everyone on Venmo, putting a lot of personal information online. Recently, Venmo has updated their privacy policy and app by removing the global social feed (Barrett, paragraph 1).

    This information was always out for everyone to see, and has become a problem in several instances. An example is how last May, Joe Biden’s Venmo was found within 10 minutes (Barrett, 4). Even with transactions that are not public, the friends list of every user is available to see. Venmo now places restrictions on what information can be seen, but is not entirely effective as personal information is still out there. I personally have never felt safe on Venmo. I know that more of my information is going out into the public. Finances are very important to everyone and an area that should have great privacy.

    Venmo is taking a step in the right direction by disclosing less personal information, but there is still minimal privacy for a finance app. In my opinion, Venmo operates in a similar way to a social media platform. Just like Facebook or Instagram, users can see each others’ friends, locations, and interests. I believe that the issue of privacy will continue to worsen if it continues. The more information that is out there online, the higher the chance that the information will be misused.

    Online platforms have certain privacy policies that they enact in an attempt to protect your personal information. For example, Facebook’s Selection Clause states that any dispute or issue that a customer may have should be exclusive to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. This is one of the elements that users agree to when they accept the terms and conditions for Facebook. By keeping the app’s issues condensed into a previously selected court, Facebook is controlling your information. Even though applications and companies say that they have your best interest in mind, I do not believe that they do. There are required laws that Facebook can not break about privacy, but there are also so many terms that all users happily agree to.

    Even though I believe that the internet and social media sites are becoming more private, I believe that privacy is still a huge issue. There are still countless ways that people can easily find your information online. These ways are legal, but in my opinion invade personal privacy. Venmo removing public transactions is smart, and I hope that they take additional measures to hide user information such as friends.

  20. As someone who uses Venmo often, I am glad to see the company become more private. I had always taken exception to the fact that, by default, many of the transactions I would complete on Venmo were completely available to the public. While this might seem like a friendly way to make an electronic payment app more social, this social media style idea harms the privacy of its users. Certain transactions are not meant to be shared and, especially in the US, finances are usually kept private and go undiscussed among groups of friends. When I had first found out that this information was made public by default, I was taken aback. I did not feel comfortable sharing my day to day transactions with whoever was willing to search for them. Today, I am glad to see that Venmo is changing the way that they do things and that they are taking extra steps to ensure better privacy for their users. By removing this global feed, Venmo users will no longer have to worry about broadcasting their financial information and habits to random strangers.

    However, this action that Venmo has taken is only the beginning. Given how transparent Venmo’s transaction records are even without this global feed, there is still work to be done. Users are still able to see transactions between friends and will be able to see who has been paying who unless all other users choose to make their transactions private. Perhaps Venmo should look to expand upon this change that they have made for privacy and allow users to make their friend lists private or to remove last names from transactions, even those seen by friends. These are a few ideas for future changes that Venmo could adopt to increase their user privacy and help create a better sense of safety for their users.

    From a standpoint of business law, this leads to an interesting discussion. How protected will online payment users be in the future? While this territory is somewhat uncharted and the laws are being written as we speak, it is very interesting to wonder what will come of this issue many years from now. I believe that it is important for lawmakers to consider the privacy of the users and come to agreements with businesses and marketing agencies that are always searching for information. In the future, consumers and online payment service users will be operating under new laws and regulations as the legislative debate over internet privacy plays out.

  21. If I were to look at my most used apps on my phone, Venmo would surely be in the top 5 most-used apps. Venmo is such a convenient way to send and request money from friends, strangers, coworkers, etc. Especially with the rising fears of germs being disbursed through money, it is not often that you see anyone paying each other back with cash anymore. Not only has Venmo been used to send and request money, but small business owners and even some major retailers are also now accepting Venmo payments from customers since it now becomes that popular amongst this generation.

    I believe that the social aspect of Venmo is what separates it from its competitors. Seeing what others are paying each other for is quite invasive, yes, but not mandatory. I disagree with Gennie Gebhart, the activist director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and his claim that “It’s not a disaster waiting to happen, it’s a disaster that’s already happened so many times to so many people.” It is required to put a note for what you are paying for, but nowhere is it stated that you have to make the note exactly what you are paying for such as water bill, jewelry, etc. More often than not, people paying each other will put emojis, inside jokes, and maybe even something totally obscure just to put something embarrassing on the feed of their friend’s page. If that is the case, Venmo provides an option for you to change the visibility setting of the transaction as well. Other money-sending platforms such as Zelle and CashApp do not require users to send notes, so that could also be an option as well for those who are still skeptical.

    In my eyes, a lack of app usage is the main problem of the privacy controversy. Users who understand the app and its settings can choose privacy protection features such as making all transactions private, not having any friends on your Venmo list, or only showing transactions to those who are on your friend list which would take you off the glocal feed. I can understand the concerns with the privacy of the app, but after all, it is just another app we have our information on and it is a choice for users to decide how they want their information to be displayed. However, I am guilty of looking through my friends’ Venmo accounts every now and then if I happen to be on the app to see what they have been spending their money on as well. Privacy is never fully intact when it comes to the digital era, but there are ways to protect yourself.

  22. As someone who does not personally use Venmo, I was surprised more than anything that something like the global feed had existed at all. While it may have seemed harmless (and likely was for many people), this seems like a highly questionable feature for a digital wallet app to have included at all in our current age of privacy concerns. In general, a digital wallet app seems like the worst kind of app to attempt to curate some form of social experience with, and the various points made by privacy advocates cited by the article seem to enforce this. Kaili Lambe of the Mozilla Foundation notes that many users were oblivious to the fact this global feed had existed, which is something I had predicted as soon as I began reading this article. Personally I have no interest in sharing any of my transactions with anyone of irrelevance, and I’m sure many people feel the same way. While at surface level the global feed may have provided harmless fun for someone scrolling through, the feature easily enabled abuse through fueling actions such as stalking or harassment.

    Implementing this global feed feature at all, let alone having potentially sensitive information be shared publicly by default, seems completely ignorant to modern data and privacy concerns. Such an inclusion of a feature promoting “harmless fun” at the risk of underlying privacy concerns speaks to the obliviousness of many in regards to their own data. The article notes that privacy advocate Hang Do Thi Duc was able to construct detailed portraits of several Venmo users off of their transactions alone. There exists a strong possibility to this could happen to someone who was not at all aware that their transactions were even public. In a separate Wired article, (https://www.wired.com/story/venmo-alternatives/), it is noted that even the Federal Trade Commission deemed Venmo’s privacy settings to be unclear and unnecessarily skewed towards being public. Even if people do not care, or even actively want their transaction messages to be publicly displayed, they are still dealing with risks they might not be aware of. The average person may not realize the extent of information someone could gather about them, such as the portraits that Hang Do Thi Duc had constructed for complete strangers. This situation ultimately expresses the importance of data and privacy concerns, as well as individuals’ understanding of them and businesses’ adherence to them.

  23. Venmo is an app that has had an increased usage in the last few years. I personally have venmo and it is one of my favorite and most used apps.It is very easy to use and makes transactions very easy.It makes sending money to anyone so easy,and receiving money. Not only is it used by college students, it is used by businesses and different companies to pay their employees. It is becoming very popular in this generation and will only continue to do so.What makes venmo so special is that when you make a payment to someone you are able to say what you paid them for. The social aspect of this is what separates it from its competitors. This is a bit invasive if you think about it. But you have an option to make your payment private if you would like to do so. This information can be an issue for some people, if you make a payment and a parent sees that you paid for something that you shouldn’t be buying then it’s a problem. But diving deeper than this if a public figure or a politician pays for something that could lead to questioning of why he or she had paid for this. There are many people that don’t feel safe on venmo and they have every right to. So the fact that they are updating their app by disclosing less personal information. Venmo is quite similar to social media platforms, you can see peoples locations, interests and a lot of other information. This is what the problem is with venmo is that there is too much information out there that can be misused. But one thought to consider is the misuse of venmo. If you are new to venmo then you don’t know all of the features, an experienced person on the app will know how to make their transactions private. So the inexperienced are the ones having this issue. For someone who has been using venmo for the past few years I found this article to be very helpful in understanding the new terms they are going to be putting in place. I found this article to be very interesting and it makes me think of how I should be more aware of my venmo transactions. If venmo keeps updating its privacy terms without changing the social aspect of the app then it will be very popular as well as make users feel safe about what they are putting out there.

  24. I actually learned a lot from this article. I have been an active user of the Venmo app since about early 2019 and most of the information provided in this article I had heard nothing about prior. When I first began using Venmo, I noticed the “global feed” and thought it was sort of a weird concept and decided to put my account on private. The way that I saw it, the simple transactions that I was making weren’t really anyone’s business. To be honest, I thought putting my account on private was the best thing that I could do to protect myself and my friends from anyone interested in our information and transaction history. This article explained how wrong I was.
    Financial transactions are usually an aspect of people’s lives that they keep extremely private. Scrolling through instagram posts and stories, you can see where people are, what they are doing, and who they are with at almost any given moment. Most times, information like that would be considered sensitive, but in the context of social media, it isn’t any more. People all over the world feel more comfortable sharing their moment-to-moment location with others over the internet, but don’t ever post even a little bit of their finances at all. People don’t really post their last paycheck, how much they paid to split lunch with their friends, how much their portion of rent for the month was, etc.; but for some reason, Venmo thought that their users would automatically want that information provided to other users on the app. On the “global feed,” the amount of the transaction was kept private, but who the transactions were between and what they were for were broadcasted for anyone on the app to see. This becomes even worse after considering that privacy isn’t the default setting for the app, users have to actively seek out their privacy. This article explains that with Venmo’s original settings, users must opt out of making their information private. Barrett points out that “many Venmo users don’t actually know that their transactions are public to the world” and that “Venmo hasn’t made it especially easy for users to figure out what they are not sharing” and how detrimental that can be to someone’s financial safety. Thankfully, Venmo has removed the “global feed” and that has made the app significantly more safe and secure, but the article suggests that it’s still not entirely safe. Personally, I will definitely continue to use Venmo for its convenience, but more still needs to be done within the app before I can feel confident and comfortable every time I send money to my friends.

  25. In the article, Venmo Gets More Private-but It’s Still Not Fully Safe, Brian Barrett discusses the new policy changes of the app used worldwide called Venmo. Venmo is used to make payments quickly and easily. Venmo has a global feed, in which all payments of people throughout the world are posted. I personally have Venmo and I was unaware of this feature because I only really use it for paying back friends on occasion. I was unaware of this feature until reading this article. The posted payments are an invasion of privacy, despite price amounts not being listed. I would not want random people looking at who I send money to or receive money from. Venmo is trying too hard to be a social media when they should be sticking to the basic function of the app at its roots. Money is not something to be flaunted online and Venmo was allowing for consumers to unknowingly share this private information with the world. Payments are a sensitive and private topic for many people. Venmo decided to remove the global feed, which is a step in the right direction. I will most likely still use this app, but I was very surprised to read this interesting article.

  26. Venmo has been a reliable source of sending and receiving money for years. I have a very good relationship with Venmo and use the app quite often. Every time you send money through the Venmo app you have to state what the reason you sent the money which is very weird. If your profile is public, you have millions of people looking at how much money you sent and what it is for. This could be a huge breach of privacy to millions of Americans. We also have to take into consideration that you do not have to use Venmo, Venmo is a private app that makes you sign a user agreement, and you have to agree with their terms, so they are within their right to have this feature available if that is what they truly desire. You can say Venmo is a social media platform in a weird way, when you send someone money it is almost like posting a picture. You can send emojis and also like other people’s transactions. So yes, in a weird way Venmo is like a social media platform in its own way. The organizers at Venmo seem to want its app to be a fun and different way to send and receive money, most of the other apps such as cash app, PayPal, etc are boring and offer limited things to do within the app. It is just the entrepreneur mindset that the developers at Venmo have and it is working. Venmo is a billion-dollar company so they really have nothing to lose, they have proved themselves and are here to stay. They are one of the main providers for the service of sending and receiving money. In my opinion Venmo has made a mistake with the status of the profiles on their account being updated with every sent dollar and the president of the united states being able to be found within ten minutes of people snooping through the app. The president should not be able to be found on Venmo because of people who are friends with him profiles are public. This can be detrimental in some ways if it is not fixed or altered in some way. With this update hopefully the accounts of these millions of Americans can be safe.

  27. Venmo is a platform that I use so often, I don’t even realize I’m using it. Roomates are ordering Chinese food? Venmo them. One person picked up the bill at dinner instead of splitting the check? Venmo them. Even the word “Venmo” has become a common phrase in the vocabulary of myself and many other people my age alike. It makes the transfer of money almost too easy. After reading this article, I realized that I never thought too hard about how public the information on Venmo is. Usually I just absent-mindedly send out or receive a payment and forget about it, but I now know that there is much more to it. Oftentimes I would visit the “global” page of venmo and scroll through the various payments out of boredom, but I never thought that people could do the same with my payments. Going forward I am going to be much more mindful about what I ‘caption’ my payments and even might start making some of them private to ensure that nobody but the recipient can see them. I don’t believe that I have ever put any sensitive info in my payments, but out of an abundance of caution, I will be as careful as possible from now on.

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