Thousands of parents push Twitter to take steps to prevent ‘Zoombombings’
Thousands of parents across the country are calling for Twitter to take additional steps to combat online trolls, citing concerns that individuals are using the platform to organize major disruptions of online classes taking place on the video conferencing service Zoom.
In a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey spearheaded by the group ParentsTogether, nearly 9,000 parents pointed to the recent spread of disruptions known as “Zoombombings,” which have interrupted or hijacked a number of online classes taking place on Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As parents and Twitter users, we are deeply concerned that Twitter is now the epicenter of online trolls organizing racist, violent, and sexual attacks known as ‘Zoombombing,’” the parents wrote. “With so much of children’s education now moved online, we are asking you to stop putting our kids at risk and take immediate action to shut down the planning and spreading of this vile abuse.”
The parents asked that Twitter ban accounts that are meant to encourage these malicious interruptions, along with banning hashtags that enable disruptors to find passcodes for meetings, and implementing a “zero-tolerance policy” towards organizing these types of attacks on Twitter.
“We ask that you turn the immense power of Twitter from endangering children, to protecting them,” the parents wrote.
A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment on the letter.
The parents are not the first to bring up concerns around interruptions to classes.
Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D) and Ed Markey (D) sent a letter to Zoom CEO Eric Yuan earlier this month asking what steps the company planned to take to ensure the privacy of students attending class online due to the pandemic.
“Precisely because Zoom’s technology has become such an invaluable — and in many cases, required — tool for learning and keeping students connected to their school communities during this crisis, we are concerned by recent reports that the platform may not be adequately safeguarding users’ data and privacy,” the senators wrote.
The FBI also put out an alert warning of interruptions to classes over Zoom in March, saying the agency had received multiple reports of classes being “disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.”
Zoom, which has seen its daily users spike over the past few months, has taken steps to address the issue of Zoombombing, including adding default passwords to all meetings and launching “Zoom 5.0” last week to enhance the security of the platform.
Yuan also apologized for the security shortcomings in a blog post earlier this month, writing that “we recognize that we have fallen short of the community’s – and our own – privacy and security expectations.”
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