‘Delete Houseparty’ requests go viral, company cries foul play

Video chatting app was accused of hacking user data

hacking rep Representational image

A relatively unknown app until the coronavirus pandemic, Houseparty has come under the scanner after many users claimed the app was hacking into their Spotify accounts. There were also claims that the app did not have an uninstall button making it hard for users to remove their accounts. 

“Delete the Houseparty app, it’s hacked my Spotify account’ posts vent viral over the last couple of days on Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook. The video chatting app by Epic Games was an instant hit amidst the COVID-19 lockdown enforced by many countries. The app interface allows video chatting with up to ten people at a time, something other popular apps such as WhatsApp and Skype didn’t offer. Houseparty is claiming that they are at the receiving end of a smear campaign intended to cause them harm due to their sudden popularity. Epic Games is now offering $1 million bounty for evidence that a ‘malicious actor’ is behind claims. 

“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 bounty@houseparty.com,” the company said in a post on Twitter. 

It is still unclear whether the app is actively hacking user data. Epic Games is a well-known software company in both Google’s and Apple’s official online stories. But it doesn’t suggest that the app is too big to be hacked. There is still no clear evidence suggesting that the app is actively breaking into user data. But if claims by affected users are to be believed, there could be a possibility of the app itself being hacked by a third party. Epic Games insists its customer data is safe and secure. "Passwords are kept in a secure database, salted and hashed, in line with best industry practices," says a spokesman. 

Another case could be that users whose accounts have been hacked might have been hacked because of a lapse in security settings on their device. With Houseparty being relatively the new app, fingers might have pointed at them. At the same time, the company has said that they were investigating the issue internally to ensure customer privacy is not compromised.