When she founded WOC Space, Tiara Moore envisioned a virtual place where professional women of color could meet, socialize, and offer support in a safe setting.
Then when stay-at-home orders began to be issued across the country, Moore believed the group’s weekly meetings were more important than ever. They offered moral support, tips, and relief to the isolation of working from home by being able to connect people via Zoom.
So on Monday, she logged onto the video conferencing app and continued working on her computer, waiting for the handful of members to join her.
“I wasn’t even looking at my screen and I hear a girl and she’s like, ‘I saw this on Twitter,” Moore told BuzzFeed News. “I said, ‘Oh, hey girl!’ and she said, ‘Yeah, but you should be careful because you can get hacked.'”
The virtual room instantly filled with what seemed like 100 people, Moore said, with multiple people yelling racist slurs at the same time. It was chaos — but the n-word, being repeatedly yelled in the middle of it, could be heard distinctly.
“I immediately closed it down like, what just happened,” she said.
With schools closed and people across the country working from home, the use of teleconferencing has exploded during the coronavirus pandemic. Business executives, government officials, and kindergarten classes have flocked to apps like Zoom, which have become vital to day-to-day work and life during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, racists and trolls have also taken advantage of the app, sneaking their way into unsuspecting meetings and online gatherings, usually bombarding them with pornographic images or racist attacks.
“I felt personally attacked,” Moore said. “I was super emotional. I cried and I was like, ‘It’s 2020, what the fuck!'”
The incident was so frustrating Moore decided to cancel the next Tuesday meeting.
“It’s so heartbreaking and, for me to be promoting this virtual safe space and to be attacked, it’s so devastating,” she said.
The incidents have become so prevalent that the FBI stepped in Monday, offering its own tips to keep online meetings secure and asking people to report incidents to its Internet Crime Complaint Center.
“As large numbers of people turn to video-teleconferencing (VTC) platforms to stay connected in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, reports of VTC hijacking (also called “Zoom-bombing”) are emerging nationwide,” the agency said. “The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.”
The FBI’s Boston office is in particular looking at two incidents, including one where a Massachusetts school’s session was interrupted by someone who took off his shirt to display swastika tattoos.
“It’s a whole pandemic,” she said, “and y’all have to do better.”– Tiara Moore
Last week, Zoom released a video offering tips on how to prevent Zoombombing, including using its waiting room feature — which requires the host to approve people coming into the call — and limiting who can share content on the calls.
Zoom also recommends that people not share the link to their meetings on social media, where trolls could search for and target them. It also recently updated its default settings for teachers to keep them in control of what content is being shared in a virtual classroom, the company said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
“We are deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this type of attack. We take the security of Zoom meetings seriously and in order to prevent such incidents from occurring, we strongly encourage users to arrange their settings so that only hosts can share their screens, and utilize features such as ‘Waiting Room’ and host muting controls,” the company said.
Article sourced from Buzzfeed News