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Bubble fun time

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 26 March 2020, 11:07 am

Now that we are all in a bubble, how do we communicate and have some good old-fashioned fun with other bubbles?

That is a question currently being answered by the app Houseparty - which I only found out about last night when my Auckland bubble connected with bubbles in Wellington and Christchurch via VC.

Houseparty is a social network app that brings people together to play games and quizzes online. You download the app, add your friends and family, and then select an activity you want to play and add the people you want to play it with. Sounds simple enough, why haven't we heard of it before?

Houseparty was launched in 2016, got a bit of press at the time, and then became a niche app. Covid-19 has revived its profile now that whole populations are being required to stay indoors for the foreseeable. According to Forbes, it has had 10 million downloads on Android and "millions more" on iPhones. It has also been appointed by Vogue as "the quarantine app you need to download immediately" which really does make it very fashionable.

There are several articles about this app du jour but I'm referencing the Forbes article because it asked a security and privacy researcher to assess the app. He didn't see anything of concern, noting that the "app doesn't provide a lot of in-app options and settings, which creates less scenarios for exploiting security issues."

And while he says there is "nothing obviously outrageous" in Houseparty's privacy policy he does call out that it can collect"anonymized and aggregated information, such as de-identified demographic information" and "de-identified location information."

Other commentary has noted that the owners of Houseparty may be laying claim to everything you do via the app, so it might be wise not to share that secret start-up idea you're planning on developing during the down time in lockdown. You can read Houseparty's entire privacy policy here.

Having been suitably warned, I expect to be giving the app a whirl. It definitely sounds more appealing than the other activity proposed by the Christchurch bubble - learning TikTok dances.


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