In response to privacy concerns, Venmo says default public transactions are a social feature

Earlier this week, we highlighted data from a security researcher who analyzed over 200 million Venmo transactions and was able to “learn an alarming mount” about users simply through those transactions.

The issue stems from the fact that anyone can track a Venmo user’s purchase history thanks to the app’s default public setting. Now, in a statement, Venmo is defending itself…

Venmo, for those unfamiliar, allows users to send money to one another – whether it be for dinner, gas, rent, drugs, or other purchases. By default, when you send someone else money, the transaction is marked as public, meaning anyone that follows you (or follows the person on the other end of the transaction) is able to see the description of the transaction.

As noted in a great ZDNet piece earlier this week, many of the transactions on Venmo are far from legal, ranging from drug deals to harassment and much more.

Speaking to CNET, a Venmo spokesperson defended the app’s default public setting, saying it comes as part of its goal to be a “fun” way to share information with friends:

“We make it default because it’s fun to share [information] with friends in the social world,” a Venmo representative told CNET Friday. “[We’ve seen that] people open up Venmo to see what their family and friends are up to.”

Furthermore, the spokesperson noted that many other social networks also set their user feeds to public by default, but noted that Venmo makes it easy to change from public to private:

“Our response to [privacy concerns] is giving customers a choice to choose private or public for each transaction in the right-hand corner,” said the Venmo spokesperson.

Venmo is a rather polarizing service as it is insanely popular among certain segments of the market, but its controversial privacy controls make many skeptical. It also faces increasing competition form the likes of Square and Apple Pay Cash.

Are you a Venmo user? Let us know down in the comments!


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