“Zoom bombing” Taking Over Virtual Learning


Lauren Klemowich

Downloads for Zoom have increased tremendously with students now doing virtual learning

As COVID-19 has swept through the United States, many schools across the country have closed and have moved to virtual learning, trying to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

This move online has brought many challenges including security concerns with the use of telecommunicating apps such as Zoom. Random kids are joining these meetings, shouting racist and absurd things or showing inappropriate pictures and videos.

The phenomenon is called “Zoom bombing” which is when an unwanted guest joins a video call with an intention to disrupt and harass. Some students would get the link for their meeting and then share the link to Twitter or Discord so that someone random could join. Other hackers would try random ten-digit codes playing “zoom roulette,” seeing if they could get into any public meeting. 

Local police and the FBI are taking these hackings very seriously. One student in Connecticut was arrested for computer crimes because of zoom bombing while federal prosecutors are warning other hackers of potential legal implications.

In Palm Beach County, Western Pines Middle School in Westlake had to suspend all online classes due to explicit and inappropriate messages and pictures being shown.

Most of the schools in Palm Beach County use Google Meet, another telecommunicating app like Zoom. Even though this is a different app, it still presents some of the same challenges. For example, after some teachers would hang up, students would still be on the app, talking to each other and showing explicit images.

Some school districts are banning the telecommunicating app in general. New York City’s school district, the largest school district in the country, blocked teachers from using the app, instead using other forms of communication like Microsoft. 

As more people are staying home to protect themselves from this virus, an increase in the number of downloads for Zoom has occurred. Just on one Sunday, Zoom had over 600,000 downloads according to Apptopia.

However, Zoom was never a consumer social tool. The app started out as an enterprise technology tool and only turned into something actual people could use because of COVID-19. Due to this, the company was not ready for the large increase in users and how to moderate user behavior.

“Zoom was originally developed for enterprise use, and has been confidently selected for complete deployment by a large number of institutions globally… As more and new kinds of users start using Zoom during this time, Zoom has been proactively engaging to make sure they understand Zoom’s relevant policies, as well as the best ways to use the platform and protect their meetings” said the company in a recent statement.

As schools look to close for the rest of the year, using telecommunicating apps like Zoom will become increasingly important in making sure students are able to communicate with their teachers. These apps have to do something to protect the safety of all students.