Houseparty, a video conferencing desktop and mobile application, said it would pay a $1 million bounty to anyone who could unmask the entity behind what the company described as “a paid commercial smear campaign.”
The company’s apparent anger comes after Houseparty has been at the center of media reports published yesterday by three British tabloids.
The Sun, the Express, and Mirror Online reported on Monday on a large number of Houseparty users claiming they had social media accounts hacked and taken over after installing the video conferencing app on their smartphones.
Users reported having Netflix, eBay, Instagram, Snapchat, and Spotify accounts taken over; however, very few were able to provide details about what really happened.
Houseparty denied any hacking rumors right from the get-go via a firm statement posted on its Twitter account, claiming that the app “doesn’t collect passwords for other sites,” and, hence, wouldn’t be able to allow anyone to extract this data and pivot to other online services.
However, despite the explanation, the app is now at the center of a public relations disaster. Many of its users appear to believe the reports and are encouraging others to uninstall and delete the app from their devices.
Houseparty officials feel they’re now being defamed unjustly in a game of dirty politics.
“We are investigating indications that the recent hacking rumors were spread by a paid commercial smear campaign to harm Houseparty,” the app maker said in a tweet today.
“We are offering a $1,000,000 bounty for the first individual to provide proof of such a campaign to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
A Houseparty spokesperson could not be reached for additional details.
The app rose in popularity during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak when social distancing and quarantine measures were imposed around the globe.
Just like employees are using Zoom and Google Hangouts Meet to have video conferences with their work colleagues, Houseparty has emerged as the video conference app of choice for teens stuck in their homes.
The Houseparty app was launched in 2016 and has been acquired by Fortnite game maker Epic Games in June 2019 for an undisclosed sum.