Houseparty, the group video chat service owned by Epic Games, has offered a $1 million bounty to anyone who can provide evidence that the service was the victim of a smear campaign designed to tarnish its reputation.
The company posted on Twitter that it was, “investigating indications that the recent hacking rumors were spread by a paid commercial smear campaign to harm Houseparty.” The rumors the company is referring to spread like wildfire on social media, with many users posting that they were locked out of applications such as Spotify, Netflix, and their bank accounts after downloading Houseparty, the BBC reports.
Houseparty would not normally access these third-party applications, however it does request permission to sync with contacts on Facebook and Snapchat. In a statement to the BBC Epic Games said that it has “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.”
There is little evidence that the company has been specifically targeted, in comparison to the more likely scenario that they are the subject of viral spread of misinformation and disinformation between normal people. Misinformation is where incorrect information is innocently shared, while disinformation is false information intentionally shared in order to spread fear and sow division among readers.
As the New Statesman notes, “it also seems unlikely that an app owned by … a gaming company worth over $15bn now most famous for owning global gaming phenomenon Fortnite, would try to gain information by unsuccessfully logging into teenagers’ Spotify accounts.”