Recently, people have been reported to seeing dozens of requests from strangers on Venmo, both for money and to connect on the app. The requests ranged from $1 to $100 and seemed to target individuals who had their Venmo accounts set to private. Many of these requests seem to be of fake accounts, with nearly all of them having pictures of women set as the profile pictures.
Many privacy researchers have addressed Venmo’s social strategy as one that’s quite harmful, and Buzzfeed’s article seems to suggest this to be the case behind the incident too. The money-exchange app, which allows individuals to send and receive immediate payments from friends and acquaintances, also functions as a social networking site. Users can make transactions and share minimum details regarding that transaction, all while keeping the payment is kept secret. The details of the transactions ends up on the user’s “news feed”, making it visible to their their “friends”. The layout is somewhat similar to twitter and Facebook’s social media feed, and like these Social Media networking sites, users can engage in social interaction on the application, through making comments using jokes and/or emojiis, and/or likes. A couple of years ago, a user discovered the venmo account of Trump’s short-lived white house press-secretary Sean Spicer, which led to a bunch of Venmo users going to his account to send send requests for money and toll his account.
Nearly all articles which seem to detail this issue suggest that the only way for an individual to protect themselves against these particular requests is to set their profile to private.
In response to the issue, Venmo put out a statement claiming that the app prohibits harassment and will do what they can to resolve the issue Personally, I think incidents like this one tarnish the image of app companies like Venmo and unprofessional. Although I haven’t received requests from Strangers/spam accounts, I have received requests from spam accounts on Instagram and it is rather annoying.