Video Chat App 'Houseparty' Offers $1.6M Bounty Over 'Smear Campaign'

All your friends are on the booming Housparty chat app, but the developers say it's the victim of a "smear campaign", and is offering a $1.6 million "bounty" for help.

Houseparty, which has been around for a few years, has exploded in popularity since coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions started keeping people indoors away from friends.

Houseparty lets you start group chats with friends. Image: Houseparty

The app lets you start group video chats and play games with friends, and is one of a number of similar apps -- like Zoom and Google Hangouts -- which have become must-haves in recent weeks.



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But recent days have seen claims circulate on social media that Houseparty's security and safety had been compromised.

Numerous people -- most with accounts based in Europe -- claimed their phones or other accounts like Spotify had been hacked after installing the app, or that they had received spam phishing texts purporting to come from Houseparty.

Little evidence was provided by any of the numerous accounts making the claims, but Houseparty on Tuesday issued a statement on social media that said all accounts were "safe" and that it didn't collect passwords.

In a reply to another user, the Houseparty account tweeted that the reports were "disheartening". But by later on Wednesday, the app claimed the social media reports were part of a "paid commercial smear campaign".

Houseparty did not elaborate on who it thought could be behind such a campaign, but said it had received "indications" this could be correct, and offered a US$1 million (AUD$1.6m) "bounty" for information.

10 daily has contacted Houseparty for comment. The tweet alleging a smear campaign was posted on March 31, but we've also asked whether this was some sort of early April Fool's Day joke too.



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With Australia now two days into even stricter social distancing measures and 'stay at home' orders -- which, in some states, even forbid you from visiting family or your romantic partner -- it's probably a safe bet that more Aussies will be checking out these apps in coming weeks.