As we're all now in self-isolation, people have been making use of the likes of Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Houseparty to stay in contact with friends.
However, in the past few days, Houseparty has been accused by some users of hacking accounts on their phone or PC, and accessing other accounts - such as Spotify, Netflix and in some cases, even bank accounts.
Houseparty, however, wants proof. In fact, the company posted a message from their official Twitter account denying the hacks and claiming that they've been part of a smear campaign against the app. Not only that, but they've also offered up a $1 million bounty to anyone with information on said 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 protected]
— Houseparty (@houseparty) March 31, 2020
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
Houseparty, which is owned by the same company that produces 'Fortnite', saw its weekly downloads go from 130,000 a week in mid-February to 2 million a week by March.
So far, they've offered no speculation as to who they believe is behind the smear campaign. However, social media anecdotes claiming they've been hacked by the app seem to indicate that the access came from Russia. Epic Games, which owns Houseparty, is based in San Francisco.
In a statement released to media yesterday, a spokesperson for Epic Game said that they have "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."