Since quarantine started, people have been finding creative ways to spend time together online. That means Google hangouts are at an all-time high, everyone is streaming live on Instagram, and Zoom went from being a sound a car makes to a classroom necessity. There is also Houseparty, the app that allows people to chat and interact, moving from room to room with their digital cohorts and play games together.
There have been some vague warnings on the Internet that not all of these modes of communication are equally safe from a privacy and data perspective, but nothing was as crazy as the accusation that Houseparty is somehow making it possible for people’s Uber, Spotify, and Snapchat accounts to be hacked:
Delete house party – somebody has hacked my Spotify from it pic.twitter.com/exHtjKYZqD
— (@CairnsOlivia) March 30, 2020
BEWARE! I know I’m not the only one with this problem! A few of my friends have been hacked by @houseparty if you look at the twitter feed! They log into your Spotify from Russia. Get your bank details and can hack it. It’s very simple once you click agree to terms and conditions pic.twitter.com/kBKU7dMUyd
— ellieb (@ellielaurenb) March 30, 2020
EVERYONE DELETE HOUSE PARTY. I’ve had my Uber account hack and two friends have had their house party accounts hacked. Make sure you disconnect your Snapchat, delete your house party account and then delete the app.
— Char (@Charlottee_00) March 30, 2020
been hacked three times off the houseparty app into my spotify would recommend deleting asap x pic.twitter.com/F9f4yGuH3m
— mary (@marymccaffertyy) March 30, 2020
The app has responded in the strongest terms, absolutely insisting that these tweets are some sort of digital smear against them:
All Houseparty accounts are safe – the service is secure, has never been compromised, and doesn’t collect passwords for other sites.
— Houseparty (@houseparty) March 30, 2020
They’re so sure that it’s all a hoax that they are offering a BOUNTY of ONE MILLION DOLLARS to anyone who can find who initiated the dirty commercial campaign. I assume they think the bad guy behind this is Dr. Evil:
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 [email protected]
— Houseparty (@houseparty) March 31, 2020
People are even more skeptical after reading this self-defense:
I got a notifications saying someone tried to enter my e-mail, the one associated with House party. This was at 8:20 am , at that time i was asleep in bed so… fuck houseparty
— ElPinto (@elpinto17_) March 30, 2020
Doesn’t seem it when I have £250 unaccounted payments from my bank and Uber sends me codes – only happened since I downloaded your app. This is the Reason why I never download apps
— DB (@9DanB) March 30, 2020
And many are saying it’s basically impossible to delete the app from their phones, whether they’re afraid of hacking or not:
I want to delete my account anyway but i can’t i was ever connected with facebook. So how do i delete it from here as not given me the option thanks pic.twitter.com/kijcKRugn4
— Toni ❣ (@ToniHarris_ox) March 30, 2020
It’s very odd that people can’t delete their accounts? Saying incorrect passwords when they aren’t?? Can you tell us why that is?
— Kym Marsh (@msm4rsh) March 30, 2020
How can I delete my account I have emailed you on both emails and both have bounced back. Clearly something isn’t right here
— ♥ ♥ Emma ♥♥ (@xEmaJx) March 30, 2020
There are plenty of reasons to be worried about using Houseparty or any other untested app that involves sharing information. Junkee reports the app has gotten criticized for a security policy users must agree to for its use that allows the app to record and hold onto all content made inside it. It also has a hint of Chatroulette, where rooms that are “unlocked” have had a lot of surprise nudity and other obscene content, exposing minors. Even non-minors probably don’t want d*ck pics showing up in their Scrabble game with their Aunt Martha, so that’s a problem.
Houseparty followed up their bounty call with a tweet about being happy to connect people in a difficult time:
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.
— Houseparty (@houseparty) March 31, 2020
But even in quarantine, we should have some standards about the way we connect. Let’s at least make the porn viewing voluntary, people!