PSA: set your Venmo account to private

If you use Venmo (owned by PayPal), make sure your account settings are private. Default is public. PayPal wants Venmo to be a chatty social network.

Venmo payments screenshot

Courtesy Venmo

TechCrunch reports that computer science student Dan Salmon downloaded data for 7 million Venmo transactions over a six-month period, almost a year after the privacy issue came to light.

Last year, Berlin-based privacy researcher Hang Do Thi Duc downloaded 207 million transactions using the app’s API.  

She found she was able to paint detailed pictures of users’ lives based on information available to anybody… [Venmo] makes transactions viewable on a public feed by default unless users change preferences to make them visible only to friends or only to the two parties involved in a transaction.

How to protect your Venmo payment history

PayPal wants your transactions readable by the world as part of your social network activity: that’s why the default setting is public.

They also discourage you from changing your primary privacy setting to friends or private (just you and the other person).

You can change your privacy settings once (recommended) or every time you use the app. When you use the app, you can override whatever your default privacy settings might be.

Change your privacy settings from a web browser (versus the app), log in and go to Settings → Privacy.

Select your preferred default privacy setting, either friends or private. Don’t leave it at Public!

venmo privacy settings browser

Be sure to click Save (at the bottom of the page) which probably will require that you scroll.

See what I mean about PayPal really wanting these transactions to be public?

Venmo confirm privacy change

Change your privacy settings from the app (versus a web browser), log in and go to Settings → Privacy.

Venmo settings in the app

Here’s why PayPal wants your Venmo transactions to be public: they want your spending habits to generate chatter (pointless babble) and perhaps your friends will then download the app.

Just say no to your financial transactions being their marketing plan.

PayPal - Venmo public settings

Source for featured image.

Written by Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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