‘A grandpa sending money’: Security questions raised after reporters find Biden’s Venmo account

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<p>US president Joe Biden</p> (AP)

US president Joe Biden


Venmo accounts for both Joe Biden and Dr Jill Biden were discovered within minutes — and deleted within hours — of reporters from Buzzfeed finding the US president on the payment app, on Friday.

Although Mr Biden and Dr Biden’s contacts on Venmo were not publicly viewable on the app, according to Buzzfeed, it raised issues of national security.

Reporters were able to find the US president and first lady on the app after an account from a Biden adviser in The New York Times about Mr Biden sending money to his grandchildren on Venmo.

BuzzFeed “found nearly a dozen Biden family members” that included “the president’s children, grandchildren, senior White House officials and all of their contacts on Venmo”.

Officials later confirmed that both accounts were removed, according to BuzzFeed, with thousands offering comment on Twitter of the so-called “scandal”.

“Am I supposed to be outraged by a grandpa sending money to his grandkids because the tone of this suggests I should be,” wrote Andi Zeisler.

Activist and Twitter user Charlotte Clymer added: “Biden uses a Venmo to send his grandkids money. Yes, this White House is just reeling from scandal to scandal.”

Others refused to believe the US president was on Venmo in the first place, with a Twitter user, Norah, writing: “I'm just surprised Biden knows what Venmo is, my dad still thinks PayPal is the only way to do money transfer online.”

Security experts also weighed, with Venmo instead facing scrutiny for its public interface.

“The fact that you cannot hide your contacts/connections/friends on Venmo poses a risk to all Venmo users,” wrote Eva Galperin, the director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The app, which is owned by PayPal, was recently at the centre of a federal investigation into Republican Rep Matt Gaetz, who faces an investigation into whether he violated federal child sex trafficking laws.

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The congressman, who denies any wrongdoing, allegedly transferred funds through Venmo to an associate, Joel Greenberg, for “food” and “ice cream” for girls, according to The Daily Beast.

Offering a comparison of Mr Biden and Rep Gaetz, author Meg Elison wrote: “Recent exposures of Biden and Gaetz on Venmo are, aside from everything else, a powerful indictment of how outdated and broken American banking is”.

A spokesperson for Venmo told The Independent : “The safety 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 ability to make their transactions private and determine their own privacy settings in the app. 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.”

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