Houseparty’s owner, Epic Games, says the app was not hacked, contrary to online rumors, and is offering $1 million for proof that user data was compromised. The social networking video service was launched in 2016. During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the app went through a surge in popularity.
Heavy.com has reached out to Epic Games for further comment on the possible hacking. The company published a series of messages on Houseparty’s Twitter page:
All Houseparty accounts are safe – the service is secure, has never been compromised, and doesn’t collect passwords for other sites.
We are investigating indications that the recent hacking rumors were spread by a paid commercial smear campaign to harm Houseparty. We are offering a $1,000,000 bounty for the first individual to provide proof of such a campaign to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have spent the past few weeks feeling humbled and grateful that we can be such a large part of bringing people together during such a hard time.
Users Have Been Complaining That Their Spotify & Netflix Accounts Have Been Compromised
According to the BBC, “online rumors” said that users of the app were complaining that their Spotify and Netflix accounts had been compromised. Houseparty does not ask users for access to Spotify or Netflix accounts but does ask for access to Facebook and Snapchat.
Among those complaining was British cricket player Kevin Pietersen who told his nearly four million Twitter followers, “Since downloading HOUSEPARTY, both mine and Jess’s Instagrams have had suspicious hacking activity. A buddy has also had their bank account hacked. Coincidence or not, I’ve DELETED it! Not taking any risks! Goodbye!”
Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, bought Houseparty from Life on Air, Inc, in 2019 for an undisclosed sum of money. At the time of writing, Houseparty is placed number three on Apptopia’s free app chart.
Parents Have Expressed Concerns About ‘Gatecrashing’ on the App
A thread on Common Sense Media’s website sees parents and teachers detailing multiple incidents where their children have been exposed to inappropriate content due to “gatecrashing.”
One teacher wrote, “I am not a parent, but a 5th-grade teacher. I have seen multiple serious issues arise because of this app. In my experience children use this app to say things they know they shouldn’t because they think it’s ‘private’ and only their friends in the group will know. I have seen students use the app to send explicit content to each other to hide it from their parents. Just be careful if you allow your child to use this app. And just because your child is trustworthy or responsible doesn’t mean the other children they are talking with will be, because anyone in the group can add anyone else your child may be speaking to someone they don’t know via a friend.”