President Joe Biden has a secret account — which was easily found — on the peer-to-peer payments app Venmo, raising concerns about privacy and security.
Biden’s Venmo account was found on Friday, “after less than 10 minutes of looking for it,” according to a report by BuzzFeed News.
In the process of finding the president’s Venmo account, BuzzFeed also found the accounts for nearly a dozen Biden family members, including the president’s children, and grandchildren, as well as senior White House officials, and all of their contacts on Venmo.
The report added that while Biden’s transactions were set to private, his friend list remained exposed — which is the case for every Venmo account, as there is no option to make a friends list private.
“If somebody wanted to map out the activities of the first family, they could just look at their activities on the social network and figure out what the family is up to by looking at what their associates are doing,” said Vahid Behzadan, the director of the Secure and Assured Intellect Learning Lab at the University of New Haven.
The president had fewer than ten friends on Venmo, but his list of friends vanished after BuzzFeed reached out to the White House for comment.
Biden was reportedly easily verifiable on Venmo due to the people he was connected to, including an account that appeared to belong to his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, who, in turn, was linked to various aides, senior Biden staffers, and family members — including an account that appeared to belong to the president’s son, Hunter Biden.
“For one of the most heavily guarded individuals in the world, a publicly available Venmo account and friend list is a massive security hole,” said Gennie Gebhart, the acting activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization.
“Even a small friend list is still enough to paint a pretty reliable picture of someone’s habits, routines, and social circles,” Gebhart added.
So far, two members of Biden’s extended family have reportedly been spammed by a stranger, asking them to get the president to give him money.
“The safety and privacy of all Venmo users and their information is always a top priority, and we take this responsibility very seriously,” a spokesperson for Venmo told BuzzFeed News.
“Customers always have the ability to make their transactions private and determine their own privacy settings in the app,” the spokesperson added. “We’re consistently evolving and strengthening the privacy measures for all Venmo users to continue to provide a safe, secure place to send and spend money.”