Houseparty

Warning: *privacy not included with this product

Houseparty

Epic Games
Wi-Fi

Review date: Sept. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Super creepy

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.

mobile Privacy warning Security warning A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: N/A

App: Yes

What can be used 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 the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

If you connect other products with Houseparty, their data about you can be shared with Houseparty. Social media or gaming platforms and third-party apps may give Houseparty information about you. Houseparty claims to not sell data. However, Houseparty shares data with third parties, including its vendors and the parent company, Epic Games. The data collected includes location information.

How can you control your data?

The retention rights are mentioned only for European and Californian residents. Moreover, the button 'Delete Account' is only available on iPhone. Users without an Apple iPhone will be required to send an email to Houseparty's support team to delete their account.

What is the company’s known track record of 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?

N/A

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

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

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

Does the product use AI? information

Can’t Determine

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Can’t Determine

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Can’t Determine

*privacy not included

Dive Deeper

  • Crashing the party: beware the cyber risks of virtual meet-up apps like Houseparty
    The Conversation
  • Video chat app Houseparty offers $1 million bounty for proof of sabotage after hacking rumors
    CNBC
  • Messenger Rooms are Facebook’s answer to Zoom and Houseparty for the pandemic
    The Verge
  • How to prevent unwanted people from joining your Houseparty calls
    Android Central
  • Houseparty denies hack as credential stuffing attacks spread
    Computer Weekly
  • Houseparty reports 50M sign-ups in past month amid COVID-19 lockdowns
    TechCrunch
  • The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of New App HouseParty
    Women Love Tech
  • Five things you should know before using the Houseparty App
    TIme Out
  • Houseparty Review
    PC Magazine
  • Fortnite users can now livestream gameplay to Houseparty’s social video app
    TechCrunch
  • What HouseParty’s End Means For The Other Apps We Loved During Lockdown
    Forbes

Comments

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