Biden will sign an executive order cracking down on Big Tech firms buying up smaller companies and hoarding user data

President Biden
President Biden speaks to reporters on July 8

  • Joe Biden will sign a sweeping executive order on Friday, which includes a crackdown on Big Tech.
  • Biden’s order will tell agencies to scrutinize Big Tech mergers more closely.
  • It will also tell the FTC to draw up rules for how tech companies can gather and use consumer data.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden will on Friday sign an executive order cracking down on the power of Big Tech firms, as first reported by The New York Times.

The fact-sheet for the wide-ranging executive order focusing on “promoting competition in the American economy” was posted by the White House Friday morning. Technology makes up just one part of the order, which also targets sectors like the job market, healthcare, and transportation – but it takes specific aim at Big Tech platforms.

The order will, first, tell federal agencies to scrutinize mergers involving Big Tech firms more closely, especially when these firms try to buy smaller companies that could one day become their competitors.

Second, the order says Big Tech platforms are “gathering too much personal information,” and will instruct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to draw up rules and limitations on how Big Tech companies can hoover up consumer data.

The order also says Big Tech companies can use their troves of data to give themselves an advantage over smaller businesses, and asks the FTC to draw up rules “barring unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces.”

On top of the orders specifically targeting Big Tech companies, Biden will also reportedly ask the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create new rules for broadband internet providers, and encourage the FCC to readopt net neutrality rules.

Big Tech companies including Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google are already under intense antitrust scrutiny in Washington.

In June, Congress introduced a series of bills directed at these four companies, and Biden appointed renowned Big Tech critic Lina Khan as head of the FTC, a move that prompted Amazon to ask that Khan be removed from any enforcement decisions involving the company.

Read more: Amazon is finally terrified of someone in Washington. That’s great news for America.

Facebook faces lawsuits for its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014 respectively. In December 2020, the FTC and 46 states filed two lawsuits seeking to break off Instagram and WhatsApp from Facebook. The lawsuits allege Facebook acquired the companies to stifle competition.

Facebook responded that the lawsuit was an attempt to revise history, and that the acquisitions had been cleared by agencies at the time. “We have operated and continue to operate in a highly competitive space. Our acquisitions have been good for competition, good for advertisers and good for people,” it said in a statement at the time.

Amazon has also been the target of criticism from lawmakers, who claim that it can use consumer data to get a competitive advantage over third-party sellers on its platform. Biden’s executive order specifically cites an October 2020 House Judiciary Committee report which alleged that Amazon used data from third-party sellers to develop its own competing products. Amazon has repeatedly denied this claim.

Google was hit with an antitrust suit from 36 attorneys general on Thursday over its control of the Android Play Store – six months after attorneys general filed a lawsuit claiming it abused its dominance in online ad sales. Google called the latest suit “meritless”, saying it was not about “helping the little guy.”

Apple is not the subject of any lawsuits from lawmakers, but pushed back against two of the five bills introduced by Congress in June, claiming they would damage the security of iPhones and, by extension, users’ privacy.

The New York Times reported CEO Tim Cook personally rang House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lobby against the bills.

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Experts say it’ll take more than just breaking up Facebook to rein in Big Tech and protect your data

facebook mark zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2019.

  • If Facebook spun off Instagram and WhatsApp, it would still have all of your data.
  • Congress wants to force Facebook to share that data with other platforms to promote competition.
  • Experts say there needs to be a provision ensuring user rights are protected. Otherwise, expect “disaster.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A potential forced break up of Facebook has been discussed for years, and that conversation has only been re-ignited as Congress mulls five new bills designed to rein in Big Tech.

But what would that implosion mean for the mountain of personal data Facebook has already collected on its hundreds of millions of users? According to experts, not much.

Two of the five bills introduced last month would force Facebook to share that data with competing apps and platforms, a feature known as interoperability.

Experts told Insider this can be a good thing. It’s how tech companies work together to make services useful for you – like how you’re able to sign in to apps using your Facebook or Google credentials or send an email from Gmail to a Yahoo address. The practice encourages people to use multiple platforms, instead of getting siloed into one specific ecosystem.

The idea is to foster healthy online competition since tech giants would relinquish their dominant grip on hordes of data and would instead share them with rivals. That proposal also stipulates that Facebook share data with Instagram and WhatsApp if it did spin off the subsidiaries.

Herbert Hovenkamp, an antitrust law expert and professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, told Insider it could be similar to when the Bell System telephone giant was broken up in 1984: all seven of the Bell branches still had access to certain information to maintain optimal operability.

But experts said simply forcing Facebook to divest its acquisitions wouldn’t mean better safeguarding user data.

Hovenkamp said that “a spinoff wouldn’t automatically take any data way” since who has what information has nothing to do with a potential breakup.

And it wouldn’t change how Facebook conducts its data-sharing business. Facebook can enter into a B2B “data-sharing agreement providing them with the exact same data they held prior to the spinout,” Tim Derdenger, an associate professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon, told Insider.

Instead, the experts said there would need to be some sort of provision included in the divestiture order to make sure that user data had adequate safety guards.

Otherwise, a plain and simple break-up could mean Facebook sharing your personal information with more entities to comply with interoperability requirements that are laid out in the proposed legislation.

“You’d need to have a mechanism so people could opt-out of sharing or specify what they do or don’t want shared,” Hovenkamp said.

Without that mechanism, user data would be shared more broadly – not exactly protected – in the name of healthy market competition.

“If there is no provision, it could be a disaster,” Hovenkamp said.

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China orders the removal of the Didi app from stores, accusing the ride-hailing company of illegally collecting personal data

FILE PHOTO: A Didi sign is seen on a car during the China Internet Conference in Beijing, China June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
Didi sign is seen on a car during the China Internet Conference in Beijing.

  • Chinese regulators’ suspension of the Didi app comes days after the company’s New York IPO.
  • China’s cyberspace agency accused the company of “serious violations” of in both collecting and using personal data.
  • The company has said it would comply with the ban and make required changes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

China on Sunday banned app stores from offering the Didi application, saying the ride-hailing company has been illegally collecting and using the personal data of users.

The move comes days after the company began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. China has increasingly clamped down on big tech over issues ranging from anti-competitive behavior to privacy and security. Last week, its cyberspace agency said it had launched an investigation into Didi to protect the safety of citizens and its national security.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said Sunday on its website that the investigation found the Didi app “has serious violations of laws and regulations” in both collecting and using personal information. App stores were notified to remove Didi and “strictly follow the legal requirements.” The statement did not say what kind of information was allegedly being unlawfully collected or used.

Didi said in a statement posted on Weibo that it would comply and make necessary changes. Registration of new users has been suspended and the app “will be removed from the shelves for rectification in strict accordance with the requirements of the relevant departments,” the statement said.

Users who have downloaded the Didi App can use it normally, and passengers’ travel and driver’s orders will not be affected, the statement said.

Didi is the second-largest ride-hailing app by market value in the world with a valuation of about $86 billion. Uber currently has a valuation of about $93 billion, while Lyft trades at a $20 billion valuation.

Shares of Didi soared as much as 28% in its IPO debut in New York on Wednesday. The company’s debut was the second-largest among Chinese companies after e-commerce giant Alibaba’s initial public offering in 2014.

Didi sports a number of high-profile investors, including Apple, which invested $1 billion in the ride-hailing company in 2016. Meanwhile, the SoftBank Vision Fund holds a 21.5% stake in Didi, while Uber and Tencent own a 12.8% and 6.8% stake in the company, respectively, according to Bloomberg.

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Google is delaying its plan to kill third-party cookies in Chrome until 2023

Sundar Pichai Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

  • Google said Thursday it’s pushing back its plan to kill off third-party tracking cookies in Chrome.
  • It now expects to phase out cookies and replace them with tech from its Privacy Sandbox by 2023.
  • The delay comes after Google pledged to give oversight of the cookie changes to the UK’s antitrust watchdog.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google said Thursday it intends to delay by a year its plan to kill off third-party cookies within its Chrome browser, a move likely to be well-received by the online ad industry, which has been scrambling to shift to alternative technologies.

Writing in a blog post, Google Privacy Engineering Director Vinay Goel set out a new timeline for Chrome’s cookie phase out and deployment of alternative technologies as part of its “Privacy Sandbox” initiative, which it now expects to complete by late 2023.

“While there’s considerable progress with this initiative, it’s become clear that more time is needed across the ecosystem to get this right,” the blog post said.

Google has now set out an extended timeline for the changes. Stage one is expected to start in late 2022, during which time publishers, advertisers, and adtech vendors can migrate their services to work with new cookieless technologies. The next stage is the cookie phase out, expected to start in mid 2023 and finish later that year.

Google first announced its intentions to kill off the tracking cookies, which advertisers use to track users around the web and target them with ads, in January last year. The company said the plan, which originally had a “two-year” deadline, was to replace third-party cookies with more privacy conscious technologies.

Since then, Google and other online ad industry players have been experimenting with new APIs, or application programming interfaces, designed to prevent the tracking of individual users while still allowing advertisers to target clusters of people by their interests and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Google said Thursday that the Chrome team and other companies have suggested more than 30 proposals for new privacy-focused ad technologies in areas including ad measurement, targeting, and fraud detection. Of those proposals, four are in the “origin trial” stage, Google said, allowing other developers to experiment with the new features.

Chrome’s cookie plans and Privacy Sandbox experiments have sparked frenzied debates in the online ad industry and among the privacy community, with some experts speculating the moves could serve to cement Google’s advertising dominance. Chrome is by far the most-popular global web browser, cornering two-thirds of the market, while Google also continues to maintain its lead in the online ad space. EMarketer estimates Google will take a 28.6% share of worldwide digital ad spending this year.

Google’s moves have also caught the eyes of global regulators. Earlier this month, Google said it would give the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority oversight of its plans to roll out technologies from the Privacy Sandbox, including offering the watchdog a 60-day “standstill period” before it introduces any changes.

Google also pledged to limit how it will use and combine individual user data for digital ad purposes and said it will not discriminate against rivals in favor of its own ad products when implementing cookie alternatives. The commitments were offered in response to an investigation the CMA launched into the Privacy Sandbox in January.

Earlier this week, the European Union opened an antitrust probe into Google’s advertising practices, including the company’s plans to phase out cookies in Chrome.

Simon Andrews, founder of mobile marketing consultancy Addictive, said while a large portion of online ad businesses mistrusts Google, the industry needs to reach a consensus around building new privacy-focused solutions that are usable for all the players across the sector.

“Like it or not, we need Google to come up with something that the industry can get behind because if they don’t, nobody else will, and there will be a Balkanization of everything,” he said.

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As Amazon prepares its Sidewalk launch, privacy experts are raising concerns. One described the tech company’s plans as ‘another monumental step in surveillance capitalism.’

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • Amazon on Tuesday will launch Sidewalk, a network connecting Alexa and Ring devices.
  • Privacy experts told Insider the network raised concerns about customer data and privacy.
  • They highlighted the prospect of potential data leaks and the implications of location tracking.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As Amazon prepares to launch its Sidewalk network on Tuesday, privacy and tech experts are discussing whether customers should be worried about their Alexa devices being linked to those owned by neighbors.

“It’s only a matter of time before personal information is leaked from these devices,” Eric Null, US policy manager and global policy counsel of Access Now, told Insider on Friday.

The Sidewalk network will connect eligible Alexa and Ring devices to others nearby, including those owned by strangers. The connections will expand home-broadband networks and strengthen connectivity, Amazon said.

If one WiFi network slows down, a neighboring network might help boost its speed. Amazon said it would encrypt data sent between devices.

After Amazon announced Sidewalk in 2019, the company faced a backlash from some in the tech world who were concerned about customer data and privacy. Over the last few months, Amazon has been notifying customers, giving them the option to opt out of the network before its June 8 launch in the US.

Users who don’t opt out will be able to do so after the launch. New customers will be asked whether they want to turn on Sidewalk as they set up their Echo or Ring devices.

Some privacy experts said the network wouldn’t raise new concerns for customers who were happy with the privacy settings on their Alexa devices.

“If you’re already comfortable with the Amazon Ring and Echo systems, there’s no additional privacy loss,” said Jon Callas, director of technology projects at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Their work on the security and privacy is pretty good.”

amazon ring doorbell
A Ring doorbell.

Others said they were concerned about the newest and largely untested Sidewalk features, which were sure to be targeted by hackers as they rolled out around the US.

Device owners linked into the Sidewalk network won’t be able to control the security settings on neighboring networks or devices, even as their personal data runs through them, said Lourdes M. Turrecha, a professor at Santa Clara University and founder of The Rise of Privacy Tech.

“To be fair, Amazon has stated that the data will be encrypted. That said, given the fight over encryption backdoors, Amazon Sidewalk poses increased surveillance threats, and is another monumental step in surveillance capitalism,” Turrecha said.

Amazon’s roadmap for Sidewalk would likely include new business opportunities for the tech giant, said Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, in an emailed press statement.

Amazon has also announced a Sidewalk Developer Service, inviting manufacturers to build devices that would work on the Sidewalk network.

“I anticipate that we’ll see a flurry of innovative use cases for Sidewalk over the next 12 to 18 months as a growing number of third-party companies embrace it to offer micro-tracking and more,” Wood said.

Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, told Insider that Sidewalk was “just Amazon’s latest move to solidify and entrench their ever-growing surveillance empire.”

Greer added: “They envision a world awash in Amazon devices that constantly watch us, listen to us, monitor our heartbeats, analyze our emotions and record our movements. Sidewalk is an attempt to lay the foundation for that dystopia.”

The company published a white paper and launched a website with details about the tech behind Sidewalk.

Customers who are linked in to Sidewalk would “contribute a small portion of their internet bandwidth” to the network, according to Amazon. The network would then use Bluetooth and other frequencies to expand customer networks.

“But of course, there has been a history of similar insecure technologies like WEP encryption and Bluetooth,” said Null. “Amazon will be opening up millions of new vulnerable spots in the network by automatically enrolling so many Amazon devices into the network.”

Callas said Sidewalk may also increase worries about location tracking. Amazon’s partnership with Tile has led to concerns about stalking, although the company has said it’s working to fix issues, he said. “We’ll have to see how good it is,” he said.

When Sidewalk was announced, much of the concern was about its launch as an opt-out feature. Those concerns haven’t gone away.

“The right way to go about this would’ve been to build the case for the mesh network, allow people to join via opt-in, and then build on the project from there,” Null told Insider. “That option is of course more difficult, which is why Amazon went with the option that benefits it the most, but that’s no excuse for taking such an irresponsible action.”

An Amazon spokesperson declined an interview request ahead of the launch.

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Tiktok’s new privacy policy lets it collect your biometric data, including ‘faceprints and voiceprints’

An iPhone user looks at the TikTok app on the Apple App Store in January 2021.

  • TikTok updated its privacy policy Wednesday, permitting the collection of US users’ biometric information.
  • The policy only vaguely promises to ask users for their consent, TechCrunch reported.
  • In February, TikTok paid $92 million to settle claims it violated Illinois’ biometric data privacy law.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

TikTok rolled out major updates to its privacy policy on Wednesday, including adding a new section that allows the ByteDance-owned company to collect US users’ biometric information.

“We may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined under US laws, such as faceprints and voiceprints, from your User Content. Where required by law, we will seek any required permissions from you prior to any such collection,” the new policy reads.

As noted by TechCrunch, which earlier reported on the changes, that language could allow TikTok the ability to collect most US users’ biometric data without explicitly asking them, due to the fact that only a few states have laws restricting companies from collecting such data.

TikTok didn’t respond to Insider’s questions about whether it had already begun collecting users’ biometric data. However, the new language is found within a section titled “information we collect automatically,” meaning TikTok could potentially be collecting it already.

TechCrunch also noted that the policy doesn’t define “faceprints” or “voiceprints,” or explain why TikTok needs this data in the first place.

In February, TikTok paid $92 million to settle a class-action lawsuit in Illinois over allegations that it violated the state’s biometric data privacy law.

Last year, the Trump administration unsuccessfully attempted to ban TikTok from the US entirely, claiming its ownership by Beijing-based ByteDance posed a national security threat.

While President Joe Biden on Thursday issued an executive order banning Americans from investing in Chinese firms linked to surveillance of religious and ethnic minorities, his administration hasn’t taken an explicit position on TikTok.

Most cybersecurity experts say that TikTok poses no more security risk to average Americans than any other social media app, though some US government agencies and politicians have banned employees from using the app.

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Venmo added new privacy options after President Joe Biden’s account was discovered

GettyImages 1227801650
In this photo illustration the Venmo – Share Payments logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

  • Venmo added new added in-app privacy controls after President Joe Biden’s account was discovered.
  • The president’s account was discovered earlier this month by reporters in just minutes of searching.
  • The new update lets users set their friends list to be public, visible to friends, or private.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Venmo has added new privacy options after reporters found President Joe Biden’s account in “less than 10 minutes” of searching.

Venmo, an app for digitally transferring money to and from people you know, added in-app privacy controls which let users set their friends list to be public, visible to friends, or private.

This change comes after the President’s Venmo account was discovered after just a few minutes of searching, Buzzfeed News reported on May 14.

Venmo accounts by default display connections, or “friends.” Accounts for Biden’s children and grandchildren were among those connected to the president’s account, according to Buzzfeed.

The search for Biden’s account began after The New York Times on Friday published an inside look at Biden’s time in the White House. The story said: “One advisor said he had sent the grandchildren money using Venmo.”

A Venmo spokesperson told Insider the company is “consistently evolving and strengthening the Venmo platform for all of our customers.”

“ As part of these ongoing efforts, we have added in-app controls providing customers an option to select a public, friends-only, or private setting for their friends list. We look forward to continuing to provide customers with a seamless payments experience,” the spokesperson said.

Software developer Jane Manchun Wong was first to share the news on Friday: “Venmo is working on friends list privacy settings after Joe Biden’s Venmo friend list was uncovered. Users will also be able to choose whether to appear in other users’ friends lists.”

“As of now, Venmo’s Friends List Privacy is on “Public” by default The screenshot shows “Private” was picked because I tapped the option as soon as I saw it,” Wong added.

Wong doesn’t work for Venmo, but she’s built a following among tech workers, journalists, and enthusiasts for digging up and publicizing unreleased features long before they’re officially announced.

To set your friends list to be private, tap the three stacked lines on the upper right of the main feed, then tap “Settings,” “Privacy,” and then “Friends List.” From here, you can make your friends list visible to any logged in Venmo user, your friends, or only you. You can also choose if you want to appear in other users’ friends lists.

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WhatsApp won’t stop users from calling or messaging contacts if they don’t agree to its new privacy policy

WhatsApp will no longer limit users from sending and receiving messages if they refuse a new privacy policy.

  • WhatsApp previously said it would limit functionality to users who refused a new privacy policy.
  • Now, the platform is reversing its decision, and says users won’t be forced to accept the policy.
  • The policy change has drawn criticisms, with some users migrating to Signal and Telegram.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Backpedaling, WhatsApp will no longer limit users from sending and receiving messages if they refuse a new privacy policy.

WhatsApp said earlier this month, that users who refused a new privacy policy would no longer receive calls or notifications, limiting functionality.

But for now, in a confusing rollout, WhatsApp has changed course, and it won’t restrict any functionality to users who don’t accept the policy, which went into effect on May 15, according to The Next Web.

WhatsApp also published an updated statement to its Help Center: “No one will have their accounts deleted or lose functionality of WhatsApp on May 15th because of this update,” it said.

The new privacy policy was originally planned for February, but was delayed by three months after critics claimed the update would allow the app to share more personal data with Facebook, WhatsApp’s parent company. WhatsApp has said the updated terms only apply to messaging business accounts, enabling businesses to link up with Facebook’s platform more easily.

Users migrated to rival encrypted messaging apps, like Signal and Telegram, after Whatsapp first introduced the policy in January. Downloads for Signal were up 4,200% from the previous week after WhatsApp first sent users a notification about the changes.

In January, India reportedly asked WhatsApp to reverse its new policy change. India is WhatsApp’s biggest market, and holds more than 400 million of the app’s 2 billion users.

WhatsApp did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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‘Apple is eating our lunch’: Google employees admit in lawsuit that the company made it nearly impossible for users to keep their location private

Google New York Office
Google in Manhattan.

Newly unredacted documents in a lawsuit against Google reveal that the company’s own executives and engineers knew just how difficult the company had made it for smartphone users to keep their location data private.

Google continued collecting location data even when users turned off various location-sharing settings, made popular privacy settings harder to find, and even pressured LG and other phone makers into hiding settings precisely because users liked them, according to the documents.

Jack Menzel, a former vice president overseeing Google Maps, admitted during a deposition that the only way Google wouldn’t be able to figure out a user’s home and work locations is if that person intentionally threw Google off the trail by setting their home and work addresses as some other random locations.

Jen Chai, a Google senior product manager in charge of location services, didn’t know how the company’s complex web of privacy settings interacted with each other, according to the documents.

Google and LG did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

The documents are part of a lawsuit brought against Google by the Arizona attorney general’s office last year, which accused the company of illegally collecting location data from smartphone users even after they opted out.

A judge ordered new sections of the documents to be unredacted last week in response to a request by trade groups Digital Content Next and News Media Alliance, which argued that it was in the public’s interest to know and that Google was using its legal resources to suppress scrutiny of its data collection practices.

The unsealed versions of the documents paint an even more detailed picture of how Google obscured its data collection techniques, confusing not just its users but also its own employees.

Google uses a variety of avenues to collect user location data, according to the documents, including WiFi and even third-party apps not affiliated with Google, forcing users to share their data in order to use those apps or, in some cases, even connect their phones to WiFi.

“So there is no way to give a third party app your location and not Google?” one employee said, according to the documents, adding: “This doesn’t sound like something we would want on the front page of the [New York Times].”

When Google tested versions of its Android operating system that made privacy settings easier to find, users took advantage of them, which Google viewed as a “problem,” according to the documents. To solve that problem, Google then sought to bury those settings deeper within the settings menu.

Google also tried to convince smartphone makers to hide location settings “through active misrepresentations and/or concealment, suppression, or omission of facts” – that is, data Google had showing that users were using those settings – “in order to assuage [manufacturers’] privacy concerns.”

Google employees appeared to recognize that users were frustrated by the company’s aggressive data collection practices, potentially hurting its business.

“Fail #2: *I* should be able to get *my* location on *my* phone without sharing that information with Google,” one employee said.

“This may be how Apple is eating our lunch,” they added, saying Apple was “much more likely” to let users take advantage of location-based apps and services on their phones without sharing the data with Apple.

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Joe Biden’s Venmo account was discovered by reporters in ‘less than 10 minutes’

President Joe Biden.

President Joe Biden’s Venmo account was discovered after just a few minutes of searching, Buzzfeed News reported on Friday.

The transactions on the account were set to private, but it was reportedly linked to Biden’s family members.

Venmo accounts by default display connections, or “friends.” Accounts for Biden’s children and grandchildren were among those connected to the president’s account, according to Buzzfeed. The account had a handful of connections.

The search for Biden’s account began after The New York Times on Friday published an inside look at Biden’s time in the White House. The story said: “One advisor said he had sent the grandchildren money using Venmo.”

With that info in hand, it took “less than 10 minutes” to find Biden’s account, Buzzfeed said. Accounts linked to Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden were removed following the report, according to the outlet.

In a statement to Buzzfeed, a Venmo spokesperson said: “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.”

Venmo has been in the political spotlight recently after Joel Greenberg, an ally of Rep. Matt Gaetz, reportedly made more than 150 payments via Venmo to dozens of women, as well as a 17-year-old girl. In one instance, Gaetz reportedly sent $900 to Greenberg.

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