Hello, yes, it has come to my attention that Matt Gaetz left his Venmo feed public and The Daily Beast has used this public feed to report a salacious story about his transactions.
Yeah, you read that right. His Venmo feed was public.
A public Venmo feed, especially one with questionable transactions, is a powerful way to amass personal information
People have been warning about Venmo’s public feeds for quite some time. You can figure out a lot about a person by monitoring their financial transactions through Venmo! In Gaetz’s case, we found out he sent money — $900, in two transactions— to Joel Greenberg, who is accused of sex trafficking. The morning after Gaetz sent money, Greenberg sent three young women sums of money that totaled... $900.
I didn’t think this need to be said, but here we are: If you have a Venmo account, and you are a congressperson, please do me a solid and go check on your security settings. You might think, “Liz, why would you, a reporter, discourage transparency?” Well, because reporters aren’t the only ones who snoop. Next time it might be a state actor amassing damaging information! A public Venmo feed, especially one with questionable transactions, is a powerful way to amass personal information — who you spend time with most, what you do together, and so on.
Here’s how: Go to the Venmo app on your phone. Press on the hamburger menu. Then tap “settings.” Next, tap “privacy.” You will get three options and the one you want is “private” so that only you and the person you’re dealing with get to see the transaction. I guess you could set it to “friends” but you’re a US Congressperson, so you might have friends who’d leak to the press. Just saying.
Now, you need to do something else: hide anything public from the past. Go to “privacy” and under “past transactions,” set everything to private.
This is infosec 101! Please include this article in the next national security briefing. Clearly Congress needs to hear it.