Zooming into class

Kimani Dodd, Staff Writer

        Zoom is a “cloud-based video conferencing platform that can be used for video conferencing meetings, audio conferences, webinars, meeting recordings, and live chat.” Since the start of online school, there has been an increase in zoom usage. Lots of schools are using it to maintain student and teacher interaction. However, it has been far from a smooth transition. Security has been a major concern and has given some people reservations about using the service. In fact, there was a case of zoom bombing last Wednesday which involved an uninvited guest appearing on the call with the sole purpose of disruption and harassment. The Connecticut teen joined a variety of classes causing trouble. Teachers say this individual was “ intentionally disrupting them with obscene language and gestures.” Officials were able to track the teen and make an arrest. The individual was charged with committing a 5th degree computer crime, 5th degree conspiracy to commit a computer crime and a breach of peace. As a result of this incident, Madison Public schools have decided to stop the use of zoom. Madison Superintendent Tom Scarcie sent a letter to parents saying “We have decided to suspend use of Zoom for whole group instruction until the district can have more assurance that Zoom has addressed security concerns”. A similar incident happened in LA. Westlake High students logged into Zoom for their meeting last Tuesday. Everything seemed normal at first until some unexpected guests showed up. These unexpected guests did extremely inappropriate things. According to Jordan Scott (Westlake High School student),  “I was uncomfortable — being a female, and 17 years old, and African American, hearing the N-word, watching sexual intercourse knowing that my male colleagues were watching the same thing that I was looking at, hearing sexual harassment directed at my female colleagues … I felt like it would be best to just remove myself from the meeting.” As a result of this along with numerous other instances, some LA elementary teachers have opted against introducing students to zoom. Users on social media have shared their negative experiences. The overwhelming response about Zoom has been negative. In response to the criticism, Zoom has decided to take some protective measures. Zoom stated that they take security very seriously and that any incidents should be reported directly to Zoom. They have suggested that if people host large meetings, they should confirm that they are the only ones who are able to use specific features and share the screen. Furthermore, they have made a post called “How to Keep Party Crashers from Crashing Your Zoom Event.” This post offers some tips on how settings can be adjusted. It remains to be seen if these measures will address all the security concerns.