‘Zoombombing’ Attacks Disrupt ClassesBreaking News
tags: online education, coronavirus, distance learning
Like many professors across the country who've been displaced from college campuses because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lance Gharavi suddenly found himself teaching his spring semester courses at Arizona State University online using the Zoom meeting platform. His first Zoom session for an approximately 150-student Introduction to Storytelling course went terribly wrong.
Right off the bat, he said, one of the participants used a Zoom feature that lets a user display an image or a video in the background in order to show a pornographic video.
“I didn’t notice it until a student on chat said something about it,” said Gharavi, an associate professor in ASU's School of Film, Dance and Theater. Participants were using fake screen names, some of which he said were very offensive. "The chat window became incredibly active. Most of the comments were not on topic. They were vulgar, racist, misogynistic toilet humor. I would barely even call it humor."
Gharavi was not alone. The University of Southern California reported similar incidents occurring while professors taught classes on the same platform, indicating that the massive migration of college classes online due to the public health crisis came with a new threat -- one that's technical rather than biological. The professors were the victims of "Zoombombing" -- the "Zoom" in this case being the online meeting and course-hosting platform, and the "bombs" typically taking the form of racist vitriol or pornographic content shared with the group by an unwelcome user.
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