Houseparty

Warning: *privacy not included with this product

Houseparty

Review date: 09/08/2021

Houseparty took off in popularity around the start of the pandemic in 2020. However, owner Epic Games recently announced the app would be shut down in October 2021, making it a short-lived, flash-in-the-pan pandemic success, now going defunct. Houseparty is designed for hanging out with friends, playing games, integrating with Snapchat, and live streaming Fortnite. The app lets you have up to eight people in a video call room at once and users can have as many rooms open as they like. And just like at a regular house party, you can float from room to room easily. You can even "sneak" into Houseparty without your contacts knowing. The Houseparty app works on Android, iOS, Mac, and as a Google Chrome extension (sorry, no Firefox or Safari support).

What could happen if something goes wrong

Oh Houseparty, you're not really a privacy-focused app, at all. Houseparty earns our *Privacy Not Included ding because we were able to use a weak password of ‘12345’ to access the app. We noted this in our review last year and they've made no changes to strengthen their password requirement since then. Houseparty has an easy to read, and worryingly vague, privacy policy where it lays out how it collects and shares a whole lot of personal information on its users. Houseparty uses tracking tools to collect data through the social media or gaming platforms you might connect. The company says they don't sell your data, but they do share it with third-parties and with their parent company, Epic Games. This data can then be used for marketing. Users aren’t able to limit much data collection, and they note that blocking cookies may stop the Chrome extension from working properly. Also, there are few protections to stop people from crashing your party. If you don't lock your party, people you don't know can join. Even if you do lock it, anyone else in the room can unlock it or invite their friends in, which could open the door for creeps and weirdos to come in the room and harrass you. We recommend users create a 'private party' or at least turn on the 'stranger danger' feature which warns users in a room that a “stranger”, or a friend of a friend, has joined the party.

Privacy

Can it snoop on me?

Camera

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Tracks Location

Device: N/A

App: Yes

What is required to sign up?

Registration to Houseparty requires giving them your name, email address, birth date. Houseparty asks for your phone number but no longer requires it. Be warned, Houseparty makes it very difficult to see the option to skip giving them your phone. Make sure you look closely for the "skip" button to avoid giving them your phone number.

What data does it collect?

What is the company’s known track record for protecting users’ data?

Average

Houseparty was at the center of controversy over supposed massive data breach in March 2020, when some users claimed that their online accounts, including Spotify, Paypal, Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix, PayPal, have been compromised. Houseparty denied a data breach, claiming that the rumors are a smear campaign. The company also offered a $1 million bounty to a person who can prove a breach. It remains unclear if the breach happened.

Can this product be used offline?

Not applicable

User friendly privacy information?

Yes

Houseparty does have a FAQ page on its website with answers written in a simple language. This approach seems to favor Houseparty's main audience of young people.

Links to privacy information

Security

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?

No

Encryption

Can’t determine

The privacy policy mentions no encryption at all, be it for chats or for calls.

Strong password

No

Log-in does not require a strong password as '12345' is accepted. Calls are open not only to invited people, but also some people not in your 'friends' list.

Security updates

Can’t determine

We found no public evidence of regular security updates for Houseparty

Manages vulnerabilities

Can’t determine

Privacy policy

Yes

Artificial Intelligence

Does the product use AI?

Can’t Determine

Does the AI use your personal data to make decisions about you?

Can’t Determine

Does the company allow users to see how the AI works?

Can’t Determine

Updates

Crashing the party: beware the cyber risks of virtual meet-up apps like Houseparty
The Conversation
The breakout hit has undoubtedly been Houseparty, which bills itself as a “face to face social network”, allowing simultaneous video chat in groups of up to eight users. But with the app’s booming popularity come a growing number of questions about how safe and secure these kinds of apps really are.
Video chat app Houseparty offers $1 million bounty for proof of sabotage after hacking rumors
CNBC
Houseparty, an app that has boomed in popularity amid the coronavirus outbreak, is offering a $1 million bounty reward to anyone who can uncover what it’s calling a “smear campaign” to spread rumors of a cyber breach. The video conferencing app has been the subject of several complaints on social media. Many have alleged that, after downloading Houseparty, they have since been locked out of their accounts from Netflix, PayPal, Spotify and even banking providers.
Messenger Rooms are Facebook’s answer to Zoom and Houseparty for the pandemic
The Verge
Facebook is rolling out a suite of new products to expand its capabilities in video chat. The company today announced Messenger Rooms, a tool for starting virtual hangouts with up to 50 people and allowing friends to drop in on you whenever they like. It’s also doubling the capacity of video calls on WhatsApp from four people to eight, adding video calls to Facebook Dating, and adding new live-streaming features to both Facebook and Instagram.
How to prevent unwanted people from joining your Houseparty calls
Android Central
Houseparty, has risen in popularity since people have been isolating themselves. The app allows people to video chat, play games, answer trivia, and more all virtually, making it a safe way to socialize right now. Still, some people have been complaining that random people are joining their video chats.
Houseparty denies hack as credential stuffing attacks spread
Computer Weekly
Social media service denies its service has been hacked, and is offering a million-dollar bounty to anybody who can prove otherwise
Houseparty reports 50M sign-ups in past month amid COVID-19 lockdowns
TechCrunch
Houseparty revealed that in the past month, its app has seen 50 million sign-ups — a figure that’s around 70 times above normal in some markets.
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of New App HouseParty
Women Love Tech
Overall, HouseParty as a concept is great. You can connect with multiple people at once face-to-face and have fun playing games, taking quizzes and just catching up. But the obvious negative to this new app is security concerns.
Five things you should know before using the Houseparty App
TIme Out
So what’s the appeal of the Houseparty app, and what are the potential downsides? As its name suggests, the app is basically a virtual version of a massive get-together. If your friends are “in the house,” you can chat them up one on one—or you can gather a group in a room to talk or play online games with friends, either locking that room’s door or leaving it open for new people to walk in and join you. Here is what you need to know.
Houseparty Review
PC Magazine
Video chat app Houseparty adds a sense of casual fun and social intimacy to make its calls feel like cool hangout sessions and game nights with friends and family. As long as you accept its more modest scope and scale, Houseparty offers an entertaining way to stay connected.
Fortnite users can now livestream gameplay to Houseparty’s social video app
TechCrunch
Houseparty, the social video app acquired by Fortnite maker Epic Games in 2019, has just announced a major new step in terms of integrating these two properties: the company says it will now allow gamers to livestream their Fortnite gameplay directly into Houseparty. The feature works to allow users to share their gameplay with up to nine other friends in a Houseparty room.
What HouseParty’s End Means For The Other Apps We Loved During Lockdown
Forbes
The HouseParty is over. Epic Games is shutting down HouseParty next month, an unexpected end for the mobile video social network acquired by Epic in 2019 and integrated into the company’s wildly popular online game Fortnite last year.

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