Prevailing social distancing has made people looking of alternative ways to maintain social connections, of which social media, can be considered as the most commonly used medium. This movement has lead to extra demand for apps and social media networks that will allow them to have a better “experience”. Houseparty can be regarded as one such app that is seeing rapid growth due to some of the features that they share with other apps and also features that are unique to Houseparty.
Up in the sky
The sudden rise of the app has made us curious to dig some information about the developer behind the same and also the origin of the app. Houseparty is developed by a company called “Life on Air, Inc.” Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, one of the highest-grossing games, recently bought the Houseparty app due to the success it achieved. Thus the users can expect to play more exciting games along with Heads Up, Finish the Lyrics, etc., with their friends, or even friends of friends who might suddenly join the chat. Because the app allows users to literally “crash-into-parties” which has been a somewhat controversial feature of the app.
“Any Connection of a participant in a video chat session may join a chat session, with or without an invite from you and whether or not you know him or her”
Rules of the Party
As per usual technology practice, this app also collects your personal details that you provide when signing up for the service which includes, your name, email address, phone number or mailing address.
Also when you provide authority, the app will also “access your contacts information from your address book on your mobile device or computer”. As per the privacy statement, the app will use these contact details to provide suggestions on friends that are using the service and you might want to invite to the video chat. Further, the statement mentions that the company “will never share your phone number or the phone numbers of third parties in your Contacts with anyone else”
The app organizes certain contests in the app and when you sign up for such events, your contact information will be used for “other promotional, marketing and business purposes”. So you might want to opt-out of such communications if you are concerned about protecting your contact and other information.
Other than that some of the data such as “(IP) address, cookie identifiers, mobile carrier, mobile advertising identifiers, MAC address, IMEI, and other device identifiers” are collected automatically while you are using the service.
Furthermore, they will receive information about you from third-party services. Another concerning fact would be that the App will receive information such as “your name, your SNS(Social Networking Service) user identification number, your SNS user name, location, sex, birth date, email, profile picture, and your contacts on the SNS” Which means they will receive certain information about you from your other social media accounts. And there is a possibility that it will send back information regarding you to companies like Facebook as well.
Other than the Cookies, the Social Media Widgets available in the app, such as connecting to Facebook will also retrieve your data such as “IP address, which page you are visiting through our Services, and may set a cookie to enable the feature to function properly”
Furthermore, the App automatically records your Log Data which includes;
- Browser type,
- Operating system
- Location (to provide Geo-filters, etc.)
- Users with whom you video chat
- Access date
- time spent on features
The Company will retain personal data as long as you use the service or “as necessary to fulfil the purpose(s) for which it was collected”
Good News is that you are able to inform the company to remove or stop collecting some of your personal data and share them with others using in-app settings and by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org