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“Zoombombing” and How to Address It

"Zoombombing” is a form of online harassment in which someone hijacks a group video call to show something inappropriate or unexpected. The offensive intrusions have been happening more frequently now that millions of people are forced to use video conferences to work, study, and communicate from home. The types of behaviors Zoombombers engage in range from silly to disgusting, with everything in between. As work and educational activities move to videoconference tools during the coronavirus pandemic, Zoombombing has become another vector for organized harassment. Like other forms of online harassment, targets are disproportionately women, people of color, religious minorities, and other marginalized groups.

Speakers and those hosting online forums can address such behavior in the following ways:

  • Mute or remove the bad actor if the platform permits
  • Publicly and transparently denounce the behavior and then move on
  • Cancel and reschedule the session if necessary
  • Proactively change settings to require screen-sharing permission

Zoom recently published a guide to locking down the app's settings to reduce the risk of uninvited guests. Most apps also encourage reporting of such incidents and claim to deactivate accounts as warranted.