The world is vulnerable to a new kind of trolling when people turn to Zoom Video calls to feel connected in the midst of quarantines. Idiots use Zoom's screen sharing feature to impress other viewers with the most terrifying videos on the Internet, from violence to shocking pornography.
That's exactly what happened today at WFH Happy Hour, a popular public zoom call hosted daily by The Verge reporter Casey Newton and investor Hunter Walk. Suddenly dozens of participants were bombarded with disturbing images. A troll entered the call and showed two girls, a mug, and other terrible sexual videos. Attempts to block the attack were frustrated because the perpetrator simply re-entered the call under a new name and showed more rough clips. The hosts ended the call instead of exposing the audience to the attack until they could stop it.
The problem arises from the zoom policy: "The host does not have to grant any other participant access to the screen share in order to share his screen." However, hosts can disable this option in their settings or in the admin controls of a call. You can change this either in your pre-meeting settings or in the administrator settings during the call for sharing screen -> advanced sharing settings.
Anyone who publicly shares zoom links that trolls could discover, such as on Twitter, should switch the screen share to "Host only" before starting a call or as soon as they see that the feature is being misused. Some tips from entrepreneur Alex Miller for other ways to protect your zoom calls are:
- Uncheck "Join before host" so that users cannot cause problems before they arrive
- Activate "Co-host" so that you can assign other people as moderators
- Deactivate "File transfer" so that no digital virus release takes place
- Deselect "Allow remote participants to join again" so that booted participants cannot join again
“I would like to apologize to all of our participants – including my parents Jim and Sally who joined #WFHappyHour for the first time today. Today we all learned an important lesson about disabling screen sharing, and we recognized the importance of good moderation of content, ”says Newton. When asked if he had photographic evidence of the attack, he said to me, "Lol, I didn't take any screenshots! I screamed! "
This is just one of the many new abuse vectors we are experiencing in the age of the corona virus. We've seen phishing attacks that are said to offer health tests, fraud that claims people's electricity is cut off during quarantine if they don't pay, and fake COVID-19 test kits that are on sale. There is always someone ready to take advantage of a tragedy for money or just watch the world burn. Therefore, it is more important than ever to stay alert and keep this "block" button within reach.