Dangers of ‘Houseparty’ app being investigated

Date published: 04 July 2017

A new live video chatting social media app called ‘Houseparty’ is being investigated by the Sunrise team, the specialist multi-agency team made up of social workers, police, health workers and PACE workers tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE) and related harm in the borough of Rochdale.

The investigation comes after the team was notified about a group of school children aged 11 – 12 years old who have been targeted by adult men from outside of the UK whilst using the app.

The app allows users to simultaneously converse with up to eight different friends, utilising a split-screen feature so you can view each member of your chat room.

Dangers of the app have been published by Netsanity, an American company set up to protect children whilst remaining online.

Netsanity claims the app is ‘relatively secure’ as the user chooses who to chat with. They say no video chat can begin without agreement from both users, so video requests can be ignored from those you don’t know.

They warn the app doesn’t always warn to use the security filters and others ‘can pop into the video chat’ if it’s not locked to private settings. However, Netsanity claims the app does give ‘a stranger danger’ warning if an uninvited user enters your chat room.

A spokesperson for Sunrise said: “The Sunrise Team is aware of a safeguarding issue relating to a social media app called ‘Houseparty’, which can be downloaded on Apple (iOS) and Android devices.

“This is a relatively new live video chat application for smart phones and tablets that is particularly popular among young people but it should not be used by children under 13 years of age, as per the application’s terms and conditions.

“Sunrise has since been in contact with the app’s developers, who are assisting in the investigation.

“As with all social media applications and other forms of online technology, there is a risk to children. Parents/guardians should make sure they know how to keep their children safe online.”

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