The recent discovery of Venmo transactions between former Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s former aide and lawyers who had been Thomas’s legal clerks has highlighted the privacy risks of using the popular payment app.
The transactions, which were first revealed by The Guardian, reveal that Thomas’s 2019 Christmas party was funded by lawyers who later went on to work at prestigious law firms. Although the descriptions of the payments are vague, they include “Christmas party,” “CT Christmas party,” and “CT Christmas party.”
The payments have sparked questions regarding possible conflicts of interest for Thomas, who has come under fire for his close relationships with influential people. According to legal experts, the payments could be interpreted as an effort to win Thomas’ favour or as a means of influencing his rulings on the Supreme Court.
The incident also brought to light the privacy risks associated with using Venmo. By default, the app makes all transactions public, allowing anyone to see to whom you are sending money and why. People who want to keep their financial transactions private, like Supreme Court justices, may have a problem with this.
Although Venmo now has a private default setting, the incident has demonstrated how easily the app’s privacy settings can be disregarded. All Venmo users should be reminded to check that their transactions are set to private, particularly if they have any concerns about their privacy or potential conflicts of interest.
Users of Venmo can take a number of actions, according to privacy experts, to safeguard their privacy.
These consist of:
- Setting your transactions to private by default
- Only share your Venmo username with people you trust.
- Reviewing your privacy settings regularly.
- Being careful about what information you share in your Venmo descriptions
Consider using a different payment app that offers more powerful privacy safeguards if you are concerned about privacy.
The incident involving Thomas’s Venmo transactions is a reminder that even the most powerful people are not immune to the privacy concerns of social media and mobile apps. It is crucial to be aware of these hazards and to take steps to protect your privacy.