Hosting a house party whilst in isolation just became the new norm. Here’s all you need to know about the app everyone’s talking about.
Words Bea Taylor
Houseparty is not a new app. It was launched in 2016 and bought by Epic Games in 2019. But now the sudden and, for the moment, complete isolation in which most of the world finds itself has rendered it hella relevant. In fact, the number of new users has soared from an average of 130,000 a week to more than 2,000,000. Even new reports of users’ other accounts being hacked as a result of Houseparty activity haven’t been enough to stagger its rising popularity.
In a statement against the privacy complaints, Houseparty said, “We’ve found no evidence to suggest a link between Houseparty and the compromises of other unrelated accounts.” So, if you decide to proceed with Houseparty, as many of its millions of users have, here’s all you need to know about the app:
Firstly, there are two phrases you’ll need to get familiar with:
In ‘the house’ = on the app
In a ‘room’ = in a video chat with one or more people
The free-to-use app is designed to operate like a real house party — so users can join rooms (conversations) as soon as they enter ‘the house’ (the app). When members are in the house, a notification gets sent out to all their Houseparty contacts, who can then also enter ‘the house’ and start a conversation. Members create rooms, which anyone can enter unless the room is ‘locked’.
As soon as you’re in the house, any of your Houseparty contacts can pop up on your screen and start a conversation without warning or an accept button, so make sure you’re presentable before entering the app. However, there is a way to avoid being seen when you enter the app. If you hold the app icon down on your device home screen, a ‘sneak in’ option will pop up. Selecting this will prevent a notification going out to your contacts.
You can also stop individual people from receiving a notification from you when you enter the house by ghosting them. This can be done by selecting the person’s name, tapping on the cog icon and selecting ‘ghosting on’.
To start a room, swipe up on your screen. You’ll be able to see friends you’ve recently spoken to and for any rooms or chats that are currently in progress — you can simply join these by tapping on them. Once you’re in a room, there are a number of games you can play with the other members in your room — just click on the dice icon.
If you’re worried about your online safety, Netsafe have a few good tips to consider:
Keep your details private: While Houseparty requires you to share some personal details to join, you can limit the amount of information you share by creating a username.
Lock your rooms: In your settings there is also an option to automatically lock all rooms you enter. Locking rooms allows you to stop anyone else from joining your chat uninvited, giving you more control over who you’re talking to.
Explore your settings: By tapping on the cog icon above your friends list, you can access and change your settings such as your location and notification settings to suit your preferences.
Use a different password: It’s a good idea to use a different password combination for your accounts, otherwise it makes it easy for hackers to access all of your accounts if they have your email address.