Zoom-bombers have been recording their exploits and uploading the footage to YouTube and TikTok. In some cases, the videos are a privacy issue because they show AA and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
It’s one thing to be humiliated. It’s another to have footage of the incident circulate on the internet for anyone to see. Unfortunately, that’s what’s happening to victims of hijacking attacks on the Zoom video-conferencing service.
You can now easily find video footage of “Zoom-bombing” incidents on both YouTube and TikTok. And some of the content is heinous and disturbing.
One video posted on YouTube shows the culprit infiltrating church meetings held over Zoom to shout the words “child porn,” “Heil Hiter,” and “I’m the Devil” at over a dozen people. In the same video, the perpetrator calls out specific attendees, saying he wants to have sexual intercourse with them.
In a separate video posted on YouTube, the Zoom-bomber infiltrates a meeting that includes a woman holding an infant and shouts obscenities at them. Another YouTube clip, with 97,000 views, features the hijacker telling a participant to “show their breasts” while calling a different attendee a “pedophile.”
PCMag easily found the videos on YouTube with the search terms “Zoom Raid” and “Zoom Trolling.” The queries resulted in over two dozen videos devoted to Zoom trolling and Zoom-related pranks. Later, YouTube’s algorithms began recommending them to us.
You can also find similar content on TikTok, which shows shorter clips of various Zoom hijacking incidents that involve berating teachers and disrupting online classes with curse words.
The hijackings are occurring because many users are holding public meetings on Zoom without realizing that anyone —including malicious strangers—can attend the same gatherings. In some cases, the perpetrators are learning about the Zoom sessions because the meeting details are shared on social media. In other cases, the hijackers are deliberately requesting people in online chats to post Zoom meeting details for the purposes of “raiding” them. On TikTok, we found numerous posts calling on users to share details for upcoming Zoom meetings.
As a result, a wave of hijacking incidents have been unfolding across the country, exposing users to childish pranks, along with more serious forms of harassment, including racist taunts. However, victims of the attacks may not realize they’re also being recorded. And by uploading the footage, the perpetrators are not just exposing victims to further embarrassment on YouTube and TikTok; they’re infringing on their privacy as well.
On YouTube, the hijackers have uploaded videos of them infiltrating Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, which shows the faces of participants. In the same videos, the Zoom-bombers tell the participants “I love alcohol” during an AA session while drawing a picture of Hitler and Swastikas during the Narcotics Anonymous meeting.
Other videos involve the culprits crashing online yoga sessions held over Zoom as attendees perform the exercises. “I love staring at girl’s asses,” says one hijacker in a video. At the same time, Zoom sessions often show people’s full names during the feed, which is then getting uploaded to YouTube and TikTok.
The recording can happen because the perpetrators are sitting behind a computer, which allows them to use desktop recording tools or even live-streaming apps to save the footage and upload it to the internet.
Whether or not YouTube and TikTok will take down these videos is less clear. In YouTube’s case, the platform has strict rules against hate speech and sexual content. However, a company spokesperson told PCMag earlier this week it has no specific policy against Zoom-bombing. So videos featuring the hijackers ridiculing people won’t be enough for a takedown. It’ll be up to victims to file an abuse report, claiming the video invades their privacy.
We’ve contacted YouTube and TikTok for comment about the videos we found, and we’ll update the story when we hear back.
As for Zoom, the company on Wednesday announced it now has over 200 million daily meeting participants, up from a mere 10 million last December when the video conferencing service was an enterprise-focused app. “We did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home,” Zoom CEO Eric Yuan wrote in a blog post. “We now have a much broader set of users who are utilizing our product in a myriad of unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived.”
In response to the Zoom bombing incidents and other privacy controversies facing the company, Zoom is shifting all its engineering resources to trust and safety projects. The company will also be undergoing a third-party audit to help it vet security issues in the platform.
To stop potential hijackers from entering your Zoom meetings, you can consult our guide or check out Zoom’s own blog post on the subject. One of the main tips is to use the waiting room feature, which will allow you to invite your guests while keeping out intruders.
Update: YouTube has taken down some of the videos, citing them for unwanted sexualization and hate speech. It’s also noting victims featured in the posted Zoom bombing clips can request YouTube to pull the videos down by filing a privacy complaint.
“We quickly remove content when flagged by our users. Additionally, we have robust privacy guidelines to protect the privacy of all our users. In the event someone feels their privacy has been violated, they can file a complaint and we will review and remove any content in line with our guidelines,” the company added.
Despite the take downs, many other Zoom bombing clips remain up on YouTube, and are easily searchable.
Update 2: Zoom says it’s also alerting the video platforms to take down Zoom bombing clips. “Zoom strongly condemns harassment of this kind and we have been reporting instances of this to various social platforms in order for them to take appropriate action. We also intend to use information from the videos to attempt to identify these individuals (the attackers) and ensure this doesn’t happen again,” the company said in a statement.
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Michael has been a PCMag reporter since October 2017. He covers a wide variety of news topics, including consumer devices, the PC industry, cybersecurity, online communities, and gaming. Please send him tips.
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