Last year, Epic Games purchased Houseparty, a social network that allows face-to-face group video chats for users as they play games together. Allegations recently came to light claiming personal information on the app had been stolen. The company took to Twitter to fire back, and open their search for the perpetrator of what they are now calling a smear campaign.
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@example.com.
— Houseparty (@houseparty) March 31, 2020
The situation began with multiple viral posts claiming the site had been hacked. Users reported their logins for accounts like Netflix, Spotify, and PayPal had been compromised after installing Houseparty. Some even posted screenshots showing they had been locked out of personal bank accounts after downloading the app. These users urged others not to download the Houseparty app, and those who had it already to delete it. The scandal grew and eventually spread to other platforms like Whatsapp.
It’s important to note that Houseparty does not ask for personal information, unlike other apps who may request access to your camera, contacts, etc. A spokesperson for Epic Games commented on the allegations, saying “We’ve found no evidence to suggest a link between Houseparty and the compromises of other unrelated accounts…” This investigation is going on as the popularity of the app has risen dramatically due to recent social distancing standards. BBC reports that weekly download averages for Houseparty jumped from 130,000 in February, to 2 million in March. The spokesperson acknowledged the growth of the app and how it has been beneficial in times like this, saying “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.”