When Hang Do Thi Duc published her work on the privacy implications of payment processor Venmo's "public-by-default" directory of payments, she did not release her dataset out of respect for the privacy of the Venmo users whose personal lives were on display in the data.
Joel Guerra went further. In an effort to create a sense of urgency around this bad privacy design, he's created a twitterbot called @venmodrugs, which scours public Venmo data for keywords and emojis that seem to indicate a sarcastic jokes about drug-buys and payment for sexual services and tweets them.
Among tweets with tree and pill emojis are jokes about blowjobs, reimbursements for rubbing alcohol and cotton balls, and "your love is my drug."
The bot is also quite crude at picking out phrases. One tweet includes the message "not drugs," and another contains the phrase "Funding for your Scotland & Ireland trip. God speed," with the bot presumably only picking up on the word "speed."
With that ambiguity in mind, some Venmo users may not appreciate having their username and photograph tweeted to a wider audience with a drug association, even if made in jest.
Guerra seemingly anticipates this. The bio of the Twitter bot reads “if you want yourself removed @ me.”
This Bot Tweets Photos and Names of People Who Bought 'Drugs' on Venmo [Joseph Cox/Motherboard]
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