Suggestions on Dealing with Zoom Bombers

(Taken from an email sent to Bay Area Zoom Hosts)

In recent days, many of our meetings have been the targets of vicious incidents of Zoombombing. The experience is traumatizing for anyone in the room and can be extremely stressful for secretaries and co-secretaries.  Apparently these trolls find each other on Reddit or some other social media platform and choose a meeting to disrupt en masse, swarming all at once with racially charged music or language, sexual images or just general chaos. 

We have attached a PDF with updated suggestions from Ben K. pertaining to Zoombombing, which indicates where you can find the settings and controls to keep your meeting safe. Additionally, Zoom has a robust Support Center with a SEARCH function that can tell you where to locate/change any of the settings or controls we mention here. 

zoom support.png

Please note: Some meetings have decided to take themselves off publicly available lists and circulate meeting codes by word-of-mouth or texts/emails to known members. It’s an unfortunate reality for newcomers that meetings may be harder to find – but it may be necessary to keep your meeting safe. It’s an individual meeting’s decision how they would like to handle this.

SUGGESTIONS FOR THE SECRETARY (Host)

1. Before the meeting, enable the Waiting Room feature (found in the SETTINGS TAB of your PROFILE under the IN MEETING (Advanced) heading. Designate 1 or 2 (or more) CO-HOSTS who will be monitoring all attendees for suspicious activity, especially as they enter the room if they have unfamiliar names or phone numbers. 

You can customize a welcome greeting that will be used every time you use Waiting Room (you find this in your Profile settings and using the Edit function).

We suggest that you use this greeting to welcome everyone and inform them that they need to START VIDEO immediately upon entering the room so they can be verified as legitimate. (If you are using the same Zoom account for non-AA work, be aware that the same greeting will appear every time you enable Waiting Room, so adjust the language accordingly.)

 Here is a sample greeting:

We want to welcome those who have or think they may have a problem with alcohol. But DUE TO RECENT TROLL ACTIVITY, we will need to approve entry of all attendees. Please SHOW VIDEO immediately upon entry into the room so we can verify that you have a legitimate purpose here. Anyone who does not identify themselves by SHOW VIDEO upon request may be removed without warning.

2. Before the meeting begins, the HOST should adjust the meeting settings using the MANAGE PARTICIPANTS controls at the bottom of the screen

· CHECK Mute everyone upon entry (once the meeting is secure, you can allow people to unmute themselves by unchecking this feature)

· CHECK Play Enter/Exit Chime (this will alert your co-hosts that someone new has entered and they should ask the person who just entered to START VIDEO if they don’t do it automatically

3. Disable CHAT – check NO ONE to chat (once the meeting is secure, you can enable CHAT so people can communicate privately or with everyone)

4. Under SHARE SCREEN (using the carrot arrow next to the words SHARE SCREEN) – go to ADVANCED SETTINGS and enable only the HOST to share screen.

SUGGESTIONS FOR DESIGNATED CO-HOSTS

1, Keep the entire list of Participants up on the right side of your screen during the meeting. (Click on MANAGE PARTICIPANTS and the list will pop up, showing everyone who is in the meeting and also the WAITING ROOM. You will have the option either to ACCEPT or REMOVE a person in the waiting room.) 

2. While the secretary is running the meeting, you are in charge of the WAITING ROOM – which means you have to make a judgment call when you don’t recognize a name or if the area code of a phone caller isn’t local. This is an imperfect science. If you DO let someone in whose video is not on – immediately ask them to START VIDEO (please note – this is not an option if the suspicious/unknown person is a CALLER.) To ask someone to START VIDEO, you can either send them a chat (HOSTS and CO-HOSTS can always chat even if no one else can) OR  — more quickly — under the MANAGE PARTICIPANTS list on the right– click on the suspicious person’s name, then click MORE and the drop-down menu will allow you to ASK TO START VIDEO. 

You can also get to this drop-down menu by clicking the three dots on the suspicious person’s picture square and you will see an option to ASK TO START VIDEO. If the suspicious person ignores you, you can either put them back in the waiting room or simply remove them. Once removed, a person cannot get back in until the next meeting. Things can feel chaotic at the start of a meeting so if there’s a question, put them back in the Waiting Room until you can deal with them or remove them.

3. To keep a the most watchful eye on all Participants, make sure you are viewing them in GALLERY VIEW and you have set your Video Settings to display up to 49 participants at a time on a single screen (go to Zoom support to locate this setting; your computer’s processing capability may restrict this)

4. Dial-in callers are harder to screen as legitimate. Generally speaking, we’ve found that once you allow them entry you can keep them muted until discussion time – most trolls will drop off if they have to wait very long before they can disrupt.

5. Consider LOCKING THE MEETING 15 minutes after the start time and encourage all members to come a few minutes early to meetings to avoid getting locked out. 

6. Discourage anyone from sharing personal phone numbers or any personal information in meetings unless you/the host are familiar with everyone present. 

Once you feel that the meeting is secure, remember to go back and allow people to unmute themselves under the MORE tab in PARTICIPANTS window. Another option is to let the secretary retain control of muting and unmuting during share time.

Here are some other resources to help you find the best solution for combatting Zoombombers: 

https://www.nyintergroup.org/zoom-protection-guide/?goal=0_4d61d72b2e-542cbb97a4-158906563&mc_cid=542cbb97a4&mc_eid=e1e50b3d13

Click here for a doc with more suggestions and tips

An Excellent Medium Post on the topic

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