Houseparty claims hacking rumours were part of a smear campaign

Houseparty, the intensely popular video chat app, has offered $1 million for proof to confirm that the recent “smear campaign” on social media was sponsored by a commercial entity.

Recently, rumours started spreading on social media platforms that people were not able to access their Netflix and Spotify accounts after downloading the Houseparty app. Many social media users claimed that they were locked out of Netflix, Spotify and banking apps after they started using the Houseparty app.

A lot of people also said that when they tried to delete the Houseparty app, they received unusual notifications such as “Are you sure you want to delete your account? You can NEVER get it back” and “Last chance to change your mind! You’re breaking our hearts”.

However, some people are claiming that they have been using Houseparty for over two years and haven’t faced any such issues. A user also got a response from Houseparty after contacting the company on social media. Following is the company’s response.

“Hey there! We’ve found no evidence to suggest a link between Houseparty and the compromises of other unrelated accounts. Our investigation found that many of the original tweets spreading this claim have been deleted and we’ve noticed Twitter accounts suspended. It’s a disheartening situation for a service like ours that’s bringing people much needed face-to-face social connections and empathy at a critical time.”

The company has now offered $1 million bounty to anyone who can provide it proof of the social media campaign being sponsored by a commercial entity.

Incidentally, just before the rumours started circulating on social media, the Houseparty app suffered technical issues that left the app non-functional for a few hours. There is no evidence on whether the disruption was caused by a cyberattack.

Commenting on rumours about the Houseparty app on social media, Christoph Hebeisen, director - security intelligence research at Lookout, had this to say:

"There are two separate issues being discussed around House Party: First, it appears that many users are not aware of the privacy implications of how the app works and how people can "drop-in" when they don't want or expect them to. This can obviously lead to awkward situations. The second issue is the assertion that third-party accounts are being "hacked" through the House Party app.

"These claims cover a wide variety of third-party services such as music and video streaming services as well as financial services. While there are numerous reports from users online we did not find any evidence to indicate that the HouseParty app as available from official App stores is to blame for compromises they are experiencing."

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