Zoombombing causes school district to ban the use of the Zoom platform for online distance learning class meetings

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The video communication platform Zoom has become very popular during these days of quarantine as a way for people to stay connected with family and friends while adhering to social distancing. 

Zoom allows up to 100 people to join a video call at the same time for free. In addition to being a useful way to stay connected to family and friends, Zoom is also used by many schools to hold virtual face-to-face class meetings and businesses to hold conferences. It has been such a blessing for everyone around the world to be able to connect through technology and be together when they physically can’t. Celebrities have even been hosting their own Zoom meetings as a way to provide entertainment for and stay connected with their fans.

Then came Zoombombing. 

Zoombombing occurs when uninvited guests “crash” a Zoom meeting in order to disrupt it with antics ranging from the foolish to the obscene. The Zoombombers can find their uninvited way into meetings in a number of ways, but it is usually by acquiring the meeting code and password from someone who has been invited to the meeting. Once in the meeting, Zoombombers begin their disruptive practices until the meeting host can kick them out of the meeting.

Barely a week into its coronavirus forced online distance learning, the School District of Palm Beach County decided that it would not allow its teachers to use Zoom any longer because of numerous instances of Zoombombing, some of which included the sharing of pornography by Zoombombers. The school district has mandated that teachers conducting live virtual class meetings must use Google Meet.

Most Olympic Heights teachers have reported having experienced no such problems when they were using Zoom during the first week of online distance learning. “I had no issues whatsoever,” English teacher Ms. Deborah Posner reports. “I found it completely user friendly. I initially liked it so much more than Google Meet, but once Google Meet stepped up their game and added the new features like Grid, etc. it became just as functional as Zoom.”

However, English teacher Mr. Christopher McKnight did experience the disruption of Zoombombers. “I have had curses, air-raid sirens, and rap music  – about 20 interruptions within one class,” McKnight recounts.“I had kids show up with no shirts on, flexing their chests…and a kid who played his ukulele. I got adept with getting that mouse to mute and remove as fast as a Formula 1 driver.” 

Of course, Zoombombing is not limited to the academic world. The New York Times reported that Chipotle was forced to end their Zoom call after “one participant began broadcasting pornography to hundreds of attendees.” This behavior has made many people upset as during such a scary and sad time right now. Zoom users want to be able to feel safe for the few moments they can feel somewhat normal again.

Zoom has acknowledged the many safety hazards on their platform and have made improvements. They have released on their website a whole page dedicated to the security and privacy for Zoom calls. They have made a waiting room for calls which gives the host of the call the power to approve and disapprove people into the call. Hopefully, people will soon be able to feel safe again joining Zoom calls to be able to stay connected while social distancing during this difficult time. 

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