Zoom has become an indispensable communications tool while America is stuck in COVID-19 quarantine. From church services to “quarantini” cocktail hours, online “6-feet-a-partays,” family reunions, college lectures and company meetings, the online meeting platform has met the demand for people hungering for a way to keep in touch while being sequestered.
Zoom is so popular that buyers have rushed to the NASDAQ to see how it’s doing on the market and buying the stock, which, by the way, isn’t the company with the ticker symbol ZOOM. Oops.
But someone always ruins the fun for the rest of us – or adds to it, depending on your sense of humor and tolerance.
It turns out that when you advertise the Zoom meeting link that anyone can access, you stand the risk of a prankster infiltrating the meeting. Strippers, hijackers, and sickos all have attended college lectures, classes and a man defending his Ph.D. thesis with bad jokes, pornography, and disgusting comments.
Dateline: Laguna Beach, California. Date: April 1.
Headline: “Visual Pornography” Disrupts City Council’s First Virtual Meeting.
“The Laguna Beach City Council got a rude introduction to cyberspace at its first virtual meeting Tuesday when “visual pornography” was displayed to those who joined a public Zoom call to share their comments.
… This jarring nuisance was experienced by governing boards across the nation this week as public agencies transitioned their meetings online to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Indiscernible audio feedback started playing for several seconds while Gavin Curran, director of administrative services, attempted to isolate the offensive caller.
“Jesus Christ. Oh my…,” an unidentified male said before Zoom’s female robotic voice cut in to say “you are muted.”
Speaking of Jesus:
— MythAddict (@MythAddict) March 25, 2020
The bedevilment of Zoom meetings began last week.
“My lecture got Zoom bombed today.”
— Will Williamson (@KingBrennymma) March 30, 2020
The members of the leftist Church of the Perpetually Offended blame Zoom for the despicable words of hackers. One dismissed Zoom entirely as “an unsafe workspace.”
“My 6-year-old laptop is threatening to blow up, while I brace for racist zoombombing in online classes I am not paid enough to teach. How poetic.
Zoom is an unsafe workspace. Pass it on.”
My 6-year-old laptop is threatening to blow up, while I brace for racist zoombombing in online classes I am not paid enough to teach. How poetic.
— postcolonialcurry #GeneralStrike2020 (@KanjiSuch) April 2, 2020
Mizzou was inundated with Zoombombers:
did mizzou really just refer to racism and bigotry as “zoombombing”? i- pic.twitter.com/JfUyZy1cOS
— davonte🪐 (@AshcraftDavonte) April 1, 2020
There’s an easy way to stop them. Put a password on your meeting, “disable screen sharing, annotation, and whiteboard, and allow only the host to unmute and enable sharing.”
— Stephanie DeMichele #DistanceLearning (@sdemichele) March 31, 2020
That’s what world leaders such as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson do with their meetings:
This morning I chaired the first ever digital Cabinet.
— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) March 31, 2020
Ed Surge reports that the UC University system got hit with Zoombombers because links to meetings are shared by students and on social media:
Zoombombing can take different forms, though it is not as sophisticated as it may sound. Usually, it entails an unsavory character who finds a Zoom link shared on public channels like Twitter, accesses a meeting that does not require a password, and abuses the chat, screen-sharing and file transfer privileges that the meeting organizer has not restricted.
But it has been enough of a concern that it was the subject of an email sent on March 24 by USC’s president and provost to its community. The note began:
“We are sorry to report we learned today that some of our online Zoom classes were disrupted by people who used racist and vile language that interrupted lectures and learning. We are deeply saddened that our students and faculty have had to witness such despicable acts.”
The FBI has gotten involved and is asking those whose meetings are Zoombombed to report them.
But before social justice warriors stampede to shut down this innovative and ubiquitous tool, encourage them to stop unintentionally inviting these jerks to their meetings.