Zoom or Doom?
Just like the name suggests, Zoom came into our lives out of nowhere. Overnight, this program which has existed since 2013 has worked its way into our everyday vocabulary. But, with sudden fame, come sudden problems. That means that the world’s newest infatuation is facing some very large hurdles. The company’s response to this will determine if this platform will thrive, or come crashing down. Let’s take a look at what’s going on with Zoom and ways that you can make sure that you are using it, safely.
We’re starting to sound like a broken record here, but there are privacy concerns with Zoom. I know, every company that you are dealing with online has privacy concerns. But it was recently reported that Zoom is leaking personal information because of a way that it groups contacts in meetings. The company also admitted yesterday that your Zoom meetings aren’t actually encrypted, even though it says so on their website. Meaning the company (and others) could tap into the meetings, if they really wanted to. Before this, Zoom addressed and fixed issues that allowed people to possibly randomly guess a meeting code and they patched an issue that allowed others to access a Mac’s camera without permission.
Yes, we know that every new technology is going to face some of these issues, and it does seem that Zoom is typically quick to address these issues when discovered. But, there has also been a new round of issues that is less the fault of the company, and more the fault of the user.
Since Zoom has blown up in popularity and is being used by educators and others across the country, the temptation has been too great for those who enjoy tormenting and harassing others online. By publicly posting the links to upcoming Zoom meetings on websites, in lesson plans or via social media, Trolls have started joining these meetings and flooding classes and meetings with vulgarity, hate speech or worse.
So What Can I Do?
In order to protect yourself, there are a few steps that you can take, especially if you are the Host of a Zoom Meeting:
Don’t publicly post the link of your meeting on a website or via social media - The fewer people that can get their hands on the link, the more likely that it will remain safe. This does not prevent your students from sharing the link, so…
Set up a waiting room - This simple feature will allow you to do a quick check of all attendees and kick out any bad actors before getting the meeting started. This may be helpful for small groups, but for larger ones, it may be pointless. So…
Limit who can show their screen - Go to your settings, before the meeting begins and click on the in-call admin settings. Hit share screen and advanced sharing settings to ban others from sharing their screen without permission.
USE A PASSWORD - For most the password was the most annoying part of Zoom. Your host would have it enabled and they never shared it with you, then as the meeting was getting started, you were locked out! Well, imagine if you are the hacker. That’s exactly what we want. So, set a password and only share it with the people who need it and send it by email or something else that is secure. Again, this won’t prevent a student from sharing it, but combined with the other tactics above, it may serve as a deterrent.
Make Yourself Look Better
You made it to the end of the post, so here’s a little reward. It won’t help with security online, but it can help your self esteem. Zoom offers a way to make yourself look better on certain platforms. Sorry Android users. It’s called “Touch Up My Appearance.”
If you are using the Zoom app, or desktop client on PC or Mac, go to your Settings (in the iOS app, then click “Meetings” and scroll to the bottom. On a desktop, go to Settings>Video>My Video) and toggle the switch for “Touch Up My Appearance.” This will turn on a subtle soft focus that will erase fine lines from your face. So, even if you just rolled out of bed for that meeting, you can look your absolute best!
Thanks, Patience, for raising some important safety considerations. I also found this brief article about Zoom privacy best practices from AFT's Share My Lesson to be helpful: https://sharemylesson.com/blog/zoom-privacy-settings
And thanks for the tip about how to touch up my appearance!