Over 25,000 Americans sign petition seeking change in Venmo's privacy settings

Then Venmo said it has no plan to change the "Public by Default" setting.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
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Mozilla delivered the petition to Venmo's headquarters in New York in person on Monday.


Venmo is again pushing aside concerns for its "Public by Default" privacy setting. 

More than 25,000 Americans signed a petition asking the digital transaction app to change its default privacy setting from public to private, according to a Thursday blog post from Mozilla, which initiated the campaign in July.  Mozilla , the developer of the Firefox browser, delivered the signed petition to Venmo's headquarters in New York earlier this week.

A Venmo spokesperson said in an email that the company has no plan to change its privacy setting to "Private by Default."

"Our poll shows that people didn't understand that the transactions were made 'Public by default,' and they don't value it the way that Venmo does," Ashley Boyd, vice president of advocacy at Mozilla, said in an email statement. "We thought this was a very compelling example that many products and services online don't put user privacy on top."

The petition follows scrutiny of Venmo that was prompted by a researcher, who created a  Twitter  bot to identify transactions involving drugs. The bot posts your first name, photo and  transaction message if your Venmo settings were set to public.

Venmo explained that user transactions default to public because Venmo sees itself as a social network. The company said customers are given a choice to make their transaction history public or private, and it's "fun to share [information] with friends in the social world."

"Venmo was designed for sharing experiences with your friends in today's social world, and the newsfeed has always been a big part of this," a Venmo spokesperson said in an email statement. "Our users trust us with their money and personal information, and we take this responsibility and applicable privacy laws very seriously."

First published on Sept. 27, 1:53 p.m. PT.

Updates, Sept. 28, 7:06 a.m. PT: Adds Venmo spokesperson statement that the company won't change its privacy setting.