On Friday, May 13, President Joe Biden used Venmo, the most popular peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfer service in the United States, to transfer some money to his grandson. It took less than 10 minutes for a reporter from Buzzfeed, a U.S. online news media company, to find out about Biden’s network of connections on Venmo. The incident has raised concerns about online security and questions about the effectiveness of Venmo in protecting privacy.
According to CNET.com, a Biden aide revealed in an interview with the New York Times that Biden sometimes uses Venmo to send money to his grandchildren. The Buzzfeed News reporter then used the Venmo software’s built-in search tool and the friends feature open to the public to map out the Biden family’s network of connections on Venmo in less than 10 minutes, including Biden’s son’s generation, his grandson’s generation, senior White House officials and White House officials.
Buzzfeed News writes, “Biden’s transfer records are not publicly available, and the number of his friends on Venmo is no more than 10. But considering the people he has contacted, one of the accounts appears to be that of his wife, Jill Biden. Biden’s …… Biden’s family members, such as Hunter Biden, can also be found. Biden’s account, as well as the accounts of several of Biden’s aides, senior White House officials and their contacts.”
All information about Biden on Venmo was removed after Buzzfeed News requested comment from the White House.
There have long been concerns about how well Venmo’s software protects the privacy of its users. Because the software’s default feature makes users’ money transfers public, and the application cannot set up lists of users’ friends to be protected as user privacy.
Venmo said in a statement that the company is responsible for the security and privacy of its users. Protecting the privacy and security of all Venmo users is a priority for the company, and we take this responsibility very seriously,” the statement read. Users often have the ability to make their transactions private and to determine their personal privacy settings on their applications. We are continually developing and enhancing the privacy settings feature for all Venmo users to continue to provide a safe and secure environment for users to transfer funds.”
But Gennie Gebhart, acting campaign director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, “For Venmo users, the software’s problems with protecting privacy have been a big issue and have been for years. And when we talk about someone big, these issues are all the more prominent and serious.”
Venmo is a mobile money transfer service application owned by PayPal. Users can use this application to transfer money to others.