Houseparty owners offer $1 million bounty for evidence of smear campaign

By Joe Richardson
April 2 2020, 12.25

The owner of social networking app Houseparty is offering a $1 million (£810,750) bounty for the first piece of evidence that proves the app was the victim of a commercial smear campaign.

Houseparty is a social networking service that enables group video chat and games through mobile and desktop devices. 

Online rumours alleged that downloading the Houseparty app has caused other apps such as eBay, Netflix and Instagram to be hacked on people’s devices.

Houseparty tweeted: “We are investigating indications that the recent hacking rumours 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 [email protected].”

Houseparty has become one of the most popular apps worldwide as billions of people are forced to stay at home amid coronavirus containment measures.

According to Apptopia downloads of the app rose from an average of 130,000 a week mid-February to 2m a week in the middle of March.

Party season: Worldwide Google searches for Houseparty over the last 30 days

Online gaming firm Epic Games, which purchased Houseparty from its creator in 2019, has not said why it believes Houseparty was the victim of a smear attack but promised to pay the first person to provide evidence of this.

A spokesperson for Epic Games said: “We’ve found no evidence to suggest a link between Houseparty and the compromises of other unrelated accounts.

“As a general rule, we suggest all users choose strong passwords when creating online accounts on any platform.”

Privacy and parenting concerns have been expressed as ‘gatecrashers’ are intruding on people’s conversations without being invited.

If a chat is left ‘unlocked’ any user can enter it uninvited – or ‘gatecrash’ – as long as they are connected to someone in the chat.

Therefore it is advised that users lock the chatroom to prevent any outside inappropriate behaviour being exposed to any unsuspecting users.

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