People are easy to find Venmo if you have the patience to go through anyone’s friends list, which can be seen by anyone in the app. Actually, very quickly, BuzzFeed news found the accounts of President Joe Biden, the first lady and other members of their family a few weeks ago. Today, the mobile payment service is owned by PayPal started rolling changing users ’privacy settings will allow you to hide your friends list.
Jane Manchun Wong, a software engineer and app researcher known for digging into pre-released forms of applications, discovered the new setting on Friday. The new Friends List section allows you to set your lists to be visible only to friends or visible only to yourself. However, it is still set to public by default, which means that any Venmo user can see your list unless you go to your settings and change it. You can now choose not to show other people’s friends lists, however, by making sure the appropriate option is turned off in the same settings section.
Venmo confirmed the new look of BuzzFeed news, tells the publication that it expands “in-app controls to give customers the option to choose a public, friends only, or private setting for their friends list.” The publication says some users have already set their lists to private, but the look may take a long time to make it all to everyone.
Critics and groups like EFF have been calling Venmo for years now for not giving users the ability to hide their friends lists. This is an issue of privacy and security, seen to be made easy for anyone to find out who is paying who. EFF Associate Director of Research Gennie Gebhart spoke back in 2019: “Your bank does not put the details of your financial transactions on a public timeline, and neither should Venmo without your confirmed consent.”
While there is an option to hide friends lists now, critics believe Venmo’s action is still lacking. As Kaili Lambe said, an old man who campaigned with Mozilla BuzzFeed news: “… Consumers don’t have to dig into product settings to find basic privacy protections. Consumers expect privacy to default and so do we.”
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