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Houseparty app
Houseparty app

Houseparty app offers $1million reward for info on alleged smear campaign

Your favourite Saturday night quarantine app could make you very, very rich

If you hadn’t heard of Houseparty before the worldwide pandemic, you’ve likely made the most of it since. The video calling app – which also lets you play games – has soared to the top of the app charts since the coronavirus outbreak. It’s the hangout software of choice for young people in self-isolation, probably because of the fun name, and probably because of the chaotic way that it lets your contacts jump into your group video calls, essentially crashing your Houseparty. 

Over the last few days, rumours have been flying around online about the app, claiming that it has been victim to hackers and that users’ security details have been threatened. The Sun, The Express, and Mirror Online reported Houseparty users online were claiming that they had other accounts like Netflix, Instagram, Snapchat, eBay, and Spotify hacked since they downloaded Houseparty. They appeared to post screengrabs showing that they were locked out of their accounts. Other rumours have circulated that people have had their bank accounts hacked. 

This morning, the people behind Houseparty tweeted: “We are investigating indications that the recent hacking rumours were spread by a paid commercial smear campaign to harm Houseparty.” They also offered a $1 million reward, so £810,750 for anyone who might have information about the smear campaign. 

Houseparty also put out a statement explaining that they do not have access to third-party apps like Netflix or Spotify, although upon sign up the app does ask for access to users’ contacts on Snapchat and Facebook.

While the app-makers deny any wrongdoing, other complaints have surfaced about the “gate-crashing” function. The Mirror ran a story about “Houseparty horror stories” in which users complained about everyone from their mum to pure strangers joining their chats. Meanwhile, UK charity Internet Matters are warning parents about their kids’ safety on the app (maybe it will be this generation’s MSN Messenger). 

The allegations have been dubbed a “public relations disaster” for the tech company that owns Houseparty, but people on social media have already started to mock how unfounded the rumours are.

One Tweet reads: “I’d urge EVERYONE to delete #houseparty. My car was stolen this afternoon and I was then robbed at gunpoint by a man in a balaclava, I’ve absolutely no doubt that Houseparty is responsible for this. DELETE IT NOW.”