Got Venmo? Protect Your Privacy
By Anonymous | June 18, 2021
What Data Does Venmo Collect?
When you register for a personal Venmo account, you must verify your phone address, your email, and your bank account.
Why Should You Care About Venmo’s Privacy?
A lot of Venmo users view Venmo as a fun social media platform where they can share their transactions with accompanying notes and descriptions. They figure they’re not doing anything wrong so why should they care if their transactions are public? They don’t have anything to hide. It is not just about hiding bad information, although this may be some users’ goal, but also protecting good information from others. What do I mean by this?
In 2018, Mozilla Fellow Hang Do Thi Duc released “Public By Default”, an analysis of all 207,984,218 public Venmo transactions from 2017. Through these transactions, she was able to discover drug dealers, breakups, and the routine life of a married couple. She was able to discover such information as where the married couple shopped and what days they usually went to the grocery store, what gas they used, and what restaurants they usually ate at. She was able to discover a drug dealer and where he lived based on his public transaction comments and the fact that his Facebook was linked to his Venmo. Thus, Venmo transactions can act as a map of your daily activities. It can be quite easy to learn about an individual through both their transactions and friends list.
How Can You Protect Your Privacy?
You can protect your data by making both your transactions and friends list private. These are both automatically public. You can also make your past transactions private and prevent Venmo from collecting some of your location data by turning location services for Venmo off using your mobile device. Article for how to do both of these here.This should prevent anyone from publicly accessing your Venmo transactions or friends list and prevent some geolocation tracking although Venmo may still be able to view your location.
You should also be cautious about your Venmo profile picture. You may figure if you regret a past Venmo profile picture, you can just delete this photo and post a new one. However, this is not the case. It is still possible to recover a user’s old Venmo profile picture after they have replaced it with a new one simply by changing the photo’s URL. Try to post photos that you do not mind being public for the foreseeable future.
In summary, privacy matters especially when it concerns financial data that reveals patterns about your lifestyle. Set your transactions and friends list to private, turn off location services, be wary of connecting your account to third parties, and post profile pictures that you do not mind being public.
Duc Do Thi, Hang. (2018). Public By Default [Project]. https://publicbydefault.fyi/
How to Sign Up for a personal Venmo account. Venmo. (2021). https://help.venmo.com/hc/en-us/articles/209690068-How-to-Sign-Up-for-a-personal-Venmo-account.
Mac, R., McDonald, L., Notopoulos, K., & Brooks, R. (2021, May 15). We Found Joe Biden On Venmo. Here’s Why That’s A Privacy Nightmare For Everyone. BuzzFeed News. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/we-found-joe-bidens-secret-venmo.
Mozilla Foundation. (2019, August 28). Venmo, Are You Listening? Make User Privacy the Default. Mozilla . https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/blog/venmo-are-you-listening-make-user-privacy-default/
Notopoulos, K. (2021, May 19). Venmo Exposes All The Old Profile Photos You Thought Were Gone. BuzzFeed News. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/katienotopoulos/paypals-venmo-exposes-old-photos?ref=bfnsplash.
Payment Activity & Privacy. Venmo. (2021). https://help.venmo.com/hc/en-us/articles/210413717.
Perelli, A. (2021, May 30). Venmo added new privacy options after President Joe Biden’s account was discovered. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.in/tech/news/venmo-added-new-privacy-options-after-president-joe-bidens-account-was-discovered/articleshow/83074180.cms.