The payment app Venmo will no longer feature its global social feed, which had allowed users to see payments between people they don’t know.
Venmo announced the decision Tuesday, Bloomberg reported.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to continually evolve the Venmo platform, while staying true to the heart of the Venmo experience, we are removing the global feed,” the company said in a statement provided to Bloomberg. “This change allows customers to connect and share meaningful moments and experiences with the people who matter most.”
Previously, users could see publicly shared payments between strangers. In May, an explosive report by BuzzFeed News demonstrated just how easy it was to track down information from Venmo users, including President Joe Biden. From that report:
On Friday, following a passing mention in the New York Times that the president had sent his grandchildren money on Venmo, BuzzFeed News searched for the president’s account using only a combination of the app’s built-in search tool and public friends feature. In the process, BuzzFeed News found nearly a dozen Biden family members and mapped out a social web that encompasses not only the first family, but a wide network of people around them, including the president’s children, grandchildren, senior White House officials, and all of their contacts on Venmo.
Venmo, which is owned by PayPal, said Tuesday that users will still have to ability to control their friends list and will be able to see transactions among friends. Users can also continue to block other Venmo customers.
Customer complaints against some digital payment services, including Venmo, CashApp and Zelle, were up sharply in the first few months of 2021 compared to the same period last year. People encountered issues ranging from scams to poor customer service, according to a report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. (The higher number of complaints may be due in part to an overall increase in people using contactless payment services, following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.)
Venmo, for its part, appears to be strengthening its efforts to improve security and crack down on fraud.
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