DALLAS (CBS) – Many people are turning to peer-to-peer cash apps like Venmo for convenience. With a few taps, Paypal’s Venmo makes is easy to pay a friend back for dinner or easily split the cost of an Uber ride.
Venmo is more than a helpful tool to send or receive payment; it is also a social network — with a public feed.
Transactions on the app default to public. Other users do not see how much you spent, but they can see who you paid and the description you entered for that transaction. Friends can “like” and even comment on that payment activity.
“It changes an everyday transaction into a social experience,” said Sammy-Jo Diffendafer, a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist associate.
Diffendafer and Liz Higgins work directly with millennials — a generation shaped by social media and technology.
“If you’re plugged in to this stuff, more people see your life and whereabouts than you realize,” said Higgins, a licensed Marriage & Family therapist and founder of Millennial Life Counseling.
Higgins says the three things that come up daily with clients are issues related to social media, finances and trust. She warns when used with the wrong intent, apps like Venmo could lead to strains on a relationship.
“It becomes this avenue to spy, to have knowledge, to see what your ex is up to,” said Higgins
Posts are open to interpretation, and users can unknowingly be leaving a paper trail of bad behavior.
“The public feed could show if someone paid for dinner or who they were with at a given time,” said Higgins.
Higgins says, whether you’re the one spying or oversharing, it’s important to understand the intent behind your behavior.
“Are they putting information out there because they want to get caught?” she said. “Do they want a partner to see, ‘I’m unhappy so I’m going to do other things because our relationship isn’t so great.’”
Diffendafer says platonic relationships can also suffer. Seeing friends’ payment activity and the perceived fun they are having without you, could make some feel more alone.
Would you want your boss to see that?
A quick peek at the public feed shows plenty of innocuous activity, like friends paying each other back for pizza. There are also plenty of suggestive payment descriptions.
One transaction describes payment for “illegal narcotics,” another “for the strippers.”
Those cryptic emojis and payment descriptions may be nothing more than inside jokes among friends, but if your settings are public, assume anyone, including your boss, could see them.
Adjusting privacy settings
“Venmo is just like any social platform and gives consumers the option of what they want to disclose vs. not to disclose,” a Venmo spokesperson said in a statement. “The safety and privacy of the people using Venmo and their information is one of our highest priorities.”
Here are the some of the different settings that Venmo says you can customize when it comes to sharing your payments:
• Individual payments: You can set the privacy level for each individual payment, right from the payment screen. If you’ve set the privacy level to Private, we will not share it anywhere other than your own personal feed and if you do choose to share, we will always keep the payment amounts private.
• Future payments: You can set up your Venmo account so that all future payments are private by default.
• Past Transactions: You have the option to make all of your past transactions private. Again, the payments will remain in your personal feed but will only be visible to you and the person involved with those payments.
• Block Users: If you’re receiving unwanted comments or payments from users that you don’t know, or simply don’t want to see someone’s activity in your feed, you have the option to block them. This will ensure that the user will not show up in your Venmo network, and they won’t be able to search for you in the app (and vice versa). Most importantly, the other user won’t be able to send or request any payments from you.”