April 7, 2020

NYC Bans Teachers From Using Zoom Over ‘Zoombombing’ Concerns

New York City’s Department of Education has directed teachers to stop using the video conferencing software Zoom over rising concerns of hackings or “Zoombombings.” The memo, recently obtained by the New York Post, directed schools across the city that are closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic to use Google Hangouts Meet or Microsoft Teams instead of Zoom.

“We know how hard you and your staff are working to make remote learning a reality for students and families, and appreciate the ways in which you’re going above and beyond every day. We also know you share our concern for student safety,” DOE chief operating officer Ursulina Ramirez wrote in a letter to school principals, according the memo.

The letter continued, “If you are currently using Zoom for video conferencing, we are ready to support you in a transition as quickly as possible.”

A range of groups using the software for educational or religious gatherings have reported individuals or groups hijacking their chat rooms to promote racist, antisemitic, pornographic images or rhetoric, dubbed “Zoombombings.”

Bryan E. Leib, Former National Director of Americans Against Antisemitism & 2018 Republican Congressional Candidate for PA-03, was leading a Zoom webinar two weeks ago with Ellie Cohanim, the U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor & Combat Anti-Semitism. The webinar was quickly hijacked when “a White Supremacist crashed our Zoom meeting to flash his Swastika Tattoo to a group of Jewish teens,” Leib said in a statement to SaraACarter.com.

“This was a cowardly act designed to intimidate the teens. However, it didn’t work! The teens filed a complaint with Zoom, a police report the next day and then they publicly shamed him by posting his picture in a JNS article.” he said, “I applaud the NYC DOE for taking strong and decisive action to protect our city’s youth from white supremacists, neo-Nazis and racists of all kinds that wish to infect the minds of our youth with their hate.”

Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan recently responded to users concerned over privacy, telling CNN’s Brian Stelter, “Our service was built to serve business and enterprise customers, however, during this COVID-19 crisis, we moved too fast.”

In the past few weeks, the company has taken steps to mitigate the initial “missteps” including implementing password protections and is actively working with school systems to prevent “Zoombombings”, the CEO said.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from “Zoombombings” click here.