Story at a glance
- Vybe Together is a smartphone app that interfaces between hosts and guests of private parties.
- Public health officials have warned against large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, and some localities have enacted legal restrictions on such events.
- Tik Tok has taken down the app’s account, and Apple removed it from the App Store.
"Find your vybe," the Vybe Together Instagram account advertises in Comic Sans font. "Local wine nights, beer pong games and dancing in an apartment near you."
If the party invite sounds nostalgic, you’ve probably been heeding public health officials’ recommendations and local laws preventing gatherings of 10 people or more. But the party-planning app allows hosts to screen guests that “apply” to attend private — and in some cases illegal — parties in their area.
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They’re currently in the midst of promoting secret NYE ragers in nyc pic.twitter.com/dEIdwX1DKn— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) December 29, 2020
After backlash, TikTok — where the app was marketing itself — took down the company’s account and Apple removed it from the App Store. But the company says it isn’t to blame for those using the app in the midst of a pandemic to gather and potentially spread coronavirus. A now-offline website promoted “small gatherings” rather than what the company acknowledged were dangerous “large scale parties.”
“But Vybe is a compromise […] We could be living, at least a little during these times with Vybe,” read the website.
One of Vybe Together’s co-founders told the Guardian the app had a few thousand users as well as applicants requesting access, but it's not clear how many potentially illegal or unsafe gatherings were actually held.
“Vybe Together was [a minimum viable product] designed to help other people organize small get-togethers in parks or apartments during COVID,” a spokesperson for the app told The Verge. “We never hosted any large parties, and we made one over-the-top marketing video that left a wrong impression about our intentions, which has since been taken down. We do not condone large unsafe parties during a pandemic.”
On Instagram, their bio now reads, "App Store took us down!!! We will be back!! Follow to stay updated."
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