Season 1 | Episode 15
Sep 19, 2019

Can’t buy me love

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What are you saying to other people with how you spend your money? And what's it say about you?

Venmo is both a functional payment service and a social media platform, so our everyday transactions might become performative — whether we intend them to or not.

Privacy researcher and coder Hang Do Thi Duc downloaded all of Venmo’s public transactions from 2017, around 200,000 total, and used the data to follow the lives of five strangers. Looking at the data, she was able to track a drug dealer’s cannabis business, one woman’s unhealthy eating habits and a couple breaking up.

And whether we mean to put ourselves on blast or not, people make assumptions all the time based on others’ spending habits. Because the way we spend money — or don’t — projects a certain version of who we are to the world.

This week, we learn about how hard it can be to “break up” when you can follow your former flame’s brand new, blossoming relationship with a simple tap of a screen. And we’ll hear from another couple who thought they were saying one thing with their Valentine’s Day gifts — but really, they were saying something else. Plus: How often can your date duck out on a bill before you get suspicious?

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The team

Megan Detrie Senior Producer
Hayley Hershman Producer

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