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More and more people are turning to teleconferencing to work from home, connect with friends or hold daily meetings while isolating themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.
Unfortunately, racist trolls are too.
In the past few days, several people have reported that uninvited trolls have crashed into Zoom teleconference calls and hijacked meetings with racist or graphic images.
People of color and universities, who had to use online courses, became frequent targets, prompting local investigations and the FBI to get involved.
In response, Zoom offered users a series of tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of “Zoombombing”. The Anti-Defamation League, which has seen white supremacists use crash tactics to disseminate hate messages, has also proposed a checklist to protect users.
Here is a list of top tips on how to avoid “Zoombombing” and stay in control of your meetings once they’re in progress.
1. Never tweet. Don’t make Facebook. Do not post it on Instagram. Not on school forums. Fair. No.
If the link is visible to anyone except those you intended to invite to the meeting, the meeting is no longer private.
“When you share your meeting link on social media or other public forums, it makes your event … extremely public,” said Zoom.
This includes not only messages posted on social media, but also on publicly accessible school message boards.
2. Use a password, duh!
Log into your Zoom account (on the web, not on the app) and simply click on the Settings in the left menu.
This will open the password options for all Zoom meetings, including scheduled, instant and personal identification meetings.
When you create a new meeting, a random password will be assigned to the meeting.
You can use it or create it yourself. Of course, the rule of not making your password obvious applies.
Make sure that when setting up new meetings, the password setting is enabled. You can also return to your previously scheduled meetings and change the settings to activate a password.
If you invite people to a meeting that is already in progress, the meeting ID and random password will appear on the screen and be sent in the invitation via email.
3. Set up a waiting room
This helps you, the host, to control not only who joins the meeting, but when. With this feature, you can authorize people one at a time (which is fine for small groups) or all at once after reviewing the list of people there (probably best for large groups).
You can also tinker with this feature to place only people who are not in your Zoom account – guests – in the waiting room, or simply place everyone there automatically.
This too is accessible under Settings option, under the Meeting tongue.
4. Check the screen
Taking control of the screen is one of the ways the Zoombombers have hijacked meetings in recent days, using the feature to display racist or pornographic images.
Disabling this feature may not prevent people from blocking your meeting, but doing so would remove a troll’s ability and incentive to derail your online meetings. This is especially useful if the troll may have been able to somehow be on your guest list or get hold of your meeting password.
To do this during the meeting, click on the arrow (^) which is just to the right of the Sharing screen at the bottom of the host control panel.
The window that appears will then give you the option to control who can share their screen during the meeting – change it to “Single Host”.
Once the meeting is in progress, it’s always a good idea to lock everything to prevent uninvited guests from arriving.
You can do this fairly quickly at the start of a meeting. Just click on Manage The participants in the lower menu of the screen. The list of participants will appear on the screen and, at the bottom right, you will see the options for Mute (also a good idea), Reactivate everything, or More.
Click on Morethen the option to Lock the meeting will appear, preventing any new participant from joining.
Eliminating trolls is probably the easiest solution if someone successfully crashes one of your meetings.
Just go back to the Participants menu (at the bottom of your screen during a meeting). Once you go to their name, the option to Remove will appear.
However, the victims of “Zoombombing” told BuzzFeed News that they have often seen their meetings infiltrated by dozens of unwanted guests. Sometimes, including classes where more than one person should join, up to 100 unidentified trolls have managed to sneak in, suggesting that Zoombombing has unfortunately turned into a group activity.
If this happens, evicting individual violators will be quite cumbersome, so making sure you’ve locked your meeting with passwords and random meeting IDs is the best way to go.
7. Do not use your personal identification number
Your personal identification number is like an endless meeting. Using it for any meeting is probably a bad idea, as trolls could use it to crash your meetings.
Instead, configure random meeting IDs.
This is done by clicking on your Settings and clicking on the Meeting tongue.
Scroll down and clear the option to use your personal meeting ID when starting scheduled or instant meetings.
During the meeting, you can hover over the video of the user you want to co-host and click on the three points that appear at the top right of their photo or video.
Once you click on it, the option Make co-host will appear, making them your ally to stop trolls or troublemakers.
For more tips on how to keep control of your Zoom meetings, see the company guide on how to keep uninvited guests outside.
Now go ahead and stay safe.