A group of parents is trying to stop Zoom-bombings by going after a key staging ground for the attacks: Twitter.
On Tuesday, the nonprofit ParentsTogether urged Twitter to crack down on the Zoom-bombing activities being openly organized over the social media platform.
“We are deeply concerned that Twitter is now the epicenter of online trolls organizing racist, violent, and sexual attacks known as ‘Zoombombing,’ With so much of children’s education now moved online, we are asking you to stop putting our kids at risk,” reads the letter the group sent to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
The nonprofit sent the letter as the video conferencing product Zoom has soared in popularity during the pandemic. However, the product has also become a target for internet trolls and racists, who’ve been infiltrating Zoom meetings in order to humiliate and harass unsuspecting users.
Many of the Zoom-bombing attacks have also targeted online classes. The letter from ParentsTogether points to media reports documenting incidents where the hijackers posted pornography during the lesson or shouted hate speech at the students.
Not helping the matter is social media. On Twitter, you can easily find tweets encouraging people to hijack a Zoom session, thanks to hashtags such as #zoomcode, #zoombomb, and #zoomraid. The same tweets often include the Zoom meeting ID, password, and sometimes even the names of students or attendees you can pose as.
In response, ParentsTogether is calling on Twitter to ban the hashtags from the platform. The nonprofit is also demanding the company shut down accounts devoted to Zoom-bombing, and investigate ways to ensure the platform won’t pose a risk to children.
“Two months ago, the idea that people would regularly burst into our children’s classrooms spewing hate and pornography would’ve been unimaginable” said ParentsTogether Co-Director Justin Ruben in a statement. “But now it’s happening literally every day — and Twitter is enabling it. It’s time for Twitter to stop endangering children and start protecting them.”
About 9,000 parents signed the letter to Twitter. However, the company told PCMag it has no comment on the matter.
Last year, Twitter did introduce a policy against posting “hacked materials,” which says: “You also may not threaten to hack or break into someone’s digital information or attempt to incentivize others to do so.” But the rules were crafted before video conferencing hijacking became a mainstream threat.
In the meantime, Zoom has been introducing new safeguards to help stop the attacks. This week, the company unveiled Zoom 5.0, which now includes a button to let you report a Zoom hijacking incident to the company in real time.
“We have been deeply upset to hear about these types of incidents and we strongly condemn such behavior,” a Zoom spokesperson added. ” Zoom offers a number of built-in protections to help hosts protect their meetings, and we have recently made a series of updates to help hosts more easily access these features and avoid uninvited guests.”
To secure your Zoom meeting from hijackers, you can consult our guide.