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Venmo as Social Media: A Qualitative Analysis

Presenters Name: 
Megan Vickery
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Lana Swartz
Secondary Research Mentor: 
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Grant Program Recipient: 
USOAR Program

Payment technologies are increasingly being assembled as a form of social media (Acker and Murthy, 2019; Maurer 2016; Swartz, 2013). This study investigates the social uses and the social shaping of emerging money technologies by analyzing tweets about the person-to-person mobile payment platform Venmo (Zelizer, 1994; MacKenzie & Wajcman, 1999). Over 28 months, 1.2 million tweets containing the term “Venmo” were collected. In order to analyze both the most salient as well as capture the full range of themes, we used a two-step sampling mechanism to identify 1) a census of the top 1% most retweeted tweets (N = 1,160) and 2) a broader variety of tweets using a statistically significant random sample of the remaining tweets (N = 392). The resulting dataset was then analyzed using a grounded theory content analysis process and a mix of predetermined and emergent coding. The resulting analysis surfaced practices (how and in what context the application is used - such as sex work, fundraising, and sales) as well as commentary (focusing relationships, comparisons to social media, and privacy or security concerns). The study demonstrates the ways in which users are understanding and using new “social” payments.