Venmo has a major privacy issue that is widely known in front of year: There is no way to keep your Venmo contacts list private. That means you can see every user’s contact list on the platform, an error so big BuzzFeed News was able to track down President Joe Biden’s Venmo account in less than 10 minutes.
BuzzFeed News not only thought the president, however; the publication also discovered accounts for many people in Biden’s inner circle, and, due to the nature of this error, all their contacts also:
BuzzFeed News found nearly a dozen of Biden’s family members and mapped out a social web that includes 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 their contacts on Venmo.
BuzzFeed News ducked in after seeing Biden send his grandchildren money about Venmo in a New York Times article published Friday. Biden’s transactions were not public (unlike Matt Gaetz’s, at one point) and all of Biden’s friends on Venmo were removed after BuzzFeed News reached out to the White House for comment, the publication reported. (Venmo gives you the option to delete contacts, but you have to do this manually.)
When asked to comment on the situation, Venmo made the following statement:
The security and privacy of all Venmo users and their information is always a top priority, and we take this responsibility very seriously. Customers always have the option to make their transactions private and control their own privacy settings in the app. We are constantly developing and strengthening privacy controls for all Venmo users to continue to provide a safe, secure place to send and spend money.
As of the time of the press, Venmo has not answered a question asking whether the company plans to let people make their contact lists private, which could help prevent something like this from happening in the future.