On Wednesday, April 1, I logged into my Zoom meeting for my advanced reporting class.
For the first 15 minutes or so, everything was normal.
The teacher was assigning homework, and then suddenly out of nowhere a name I didn’t recognize appeared on the screen and was yelling in a language I didn’t understand.
They were followed by a couple more people also speaking in languages we all couldn’t follow — I don’t know if they were the same language or not. From what we could tell, these first new people to the meeting weren’t saying or doing anything disturbing, but the fact that they were in our meeting was definitely surprising.
More and more people kept coming into the meeting, and these people were screaming extremely racist language and drawing anti-Semitic symbols on their feeds.
The whole class was shocked and confused for a few minutes. Then the professor told the class to exit out of the Zoom meeting.
As soon as she gave us the permission to leave, I was out. I might have been the first person to have left the meeting.
10 minutes after leaving that first Zoom conference my teacher emailed everyone in the class that she had set up a new one and class would continue without any more interruptions from people.
Apparently this occurrence of people hacking into Zoom conferences has become frequent enough to get its own name: “Zoombombing.”
According to a story written by the New York Times on April 3, 2020, they discovered thousands of people over multiple social media platforms that were discussing plans to disrupt Zoom meetings.
So, this is not just happening to my class but to people all over the world. I find this incredibly troubling as during this time of quarantining and social distancing many of us are looking to applications like Zoom to connect us to each other, our schools and our jobs.
There’s already too much stress in the U.S. and the world right now. And now we have “Zoombombing.”
However, my frustration is not as much with the trolls as it is with Zoom and their lack of preparation for this.
There has never been a lack of troublemakers or trolls in our society, especially on the internet. There should have been better security measures built into Zoom to prevent this from happening.
I am no technology expert, but I know that as a user of this service I never believed something like this would have happened and I hope Zoom works to protect the security of myself and the many others around the world this is happening to.