Schools, universities, houses of worship and others are experiencing disruptions to their Zoom meetings — Zoombombing. Trolls have crashed into meetings with racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic messages. Others exposed themselves or posted pornography.
Victims include places of worship. RNS reports:
On Sunday, Alex Merritt was signed in to the Zoom video conferencing app, discussing a biblical passage with members of his Sunday school young adults group at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas.
Then the trolls attacked. Some began sharing their screens and drawing obscene images over the text the group had been discussing. “You are being hacked! You are being hacked!” one shouted. Another turned on his video and began revealing his genitals.
Merritt’s church group, which had to shut down its meeting and set up a new one, originally put a public Zoom link on its website. Now, the group will only send the link to members of its private Facebook groups, all of whom have been approved.
A Shabbat service held via Zoom by a Bay Area synagogue was crashed by Nazis. A Unitarian Universalist church in Massachusetts saw a livestreamed service on YouTube deluged with dislikes. A livestreamed church service in Los Angeles was hacked and replaced with porn. A Zoom webinar last week with the People’s Forum, an activist-oriented cultural space directed by theologian Claudia de la Cruz, was disrupted by a troll posting the n-word in the chat window repeatedly until administrators blocked him.
Virginia Commonwealth University has posted security advice — settings and best practices — for Zoom meetings.
Ceri Weber’s PhD defense was Zoombombed. Her thread includes the experience and lessons learned. Recommended:
— Ceri Weber (@ceri_weber) March 28, 2020
The Rev. Laura Everett was Zoombombed on Sunday. Among the replies to her tweet are others who were Zoombombed:
The church I’m preaching at just got Zoom bombed with anti-LGBT hate speech. We’ve stopped and restarted with a password protected gathering. I’ll try to go live here later for my sermon. Hate doesn’t stop in a pandemic. Lord, have mercy.
— Rev. Laura Everett (@RevEverett) March 29, 2020