As classes, work meetings, social events, and family gatherings all move online during COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, some meetings are being disrupted by total strangers showing up in a new campaign harassment method known as "Zoombombing," on the video-conferencing platform, Zoom. These are coordinated harassment efforts, explained in more detail by this New York Times article. Additional examples include:
- In Detroit, 2 strangers showed up in an online dance class and started spewing racism and expletives as the teacher tried to boot them from the class.
- In Orange County, Florida, a man invaded a public school class Zoom meeting and exposed himself.
- A.A. meetings, which are open to the public and have largely transitioned to Zoom during the pandemic are frequently being disrupted by harassers.
The CEO of Zoom acknowledged these problems and pledged to make Zoom safer last week in this post. In the meantime, there are measures you can take to keep your Zoom from being disrupted.
What you can do
The good news is that there are several ways to prevent malicious strangers from disrupting your meetings:
- Make sure your meeting requires a password to join.
- Refrain from using your personal Zoom room. Schedule a new meeting instead.
- Double-check that "Join Before Host" is disabled. This setting allows others to join a meeting before the host. (It should be disabled by default.)
- For more tips on locking down your zoom, this post contains suggestions from the FBI, and this post contains information directly from Zoom.
Previously, we wrote about how we expected to see online harassment increase as many people are home, stressed, and bored. "Zoombombing" is an unfortunate initial example of this.
We’ll be continuing to monitor the effect these global events have on the online harassment landscape. Sign up for our mailing list to stay updated about how to protect yourself and your loved ones.