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Zoom in the digital safety space

The start of the pandemic in the early months of 2020 has persistently changed how we use digital technology. Companies and schools switched to home-office and online learning, which caused a drastic change in the user bases of video-conferencing platforms like Zoom. The number of daily Zoom meeting participants grew from 30 million before the pandemic, to around 350 million now. This incredible increase in participants has created new challenges and new demands for Trust and Safety.

As more and more children began using video-conferencing every day to participate in schoolwork, perpetrators have started targeting young people on sites offering this service. Even platforms like Zoom, which are mostly used for work and education purposes are frequently targeted by potential perpetrators. Some offenders attempt to infiltrate online studying spaces to contact and groom children. Others have resorted to so-called "Zoom-bombing" which describes the action of hacking into a zoom meeting and distributing and broadcasting Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) for all meeting participants to see. In response to this increasing threat, Zoom has continuously worked to adapt its digital safety practices to be able to offer a safe experience for children.

How has Zoom adapted its trust and safety practices?

  1. Instead of reviewing incoming cases in a single queue, reports are now evaluated and reviewed according to their assigned category of priority. This helps to make sure that the most delicate cases are handled as fast as possible.
  2. Zoom has implemented a tool that allows them to report CSAM to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) directly from their dashboard.

Zoom features for user safety

  • The at-risk meeting notifier, is a tool that scans social media for Zoom meeting links that have been shared online with unauthorised users.
  • A feature with the ability to approve users from specific locations. This helps to make sure that an online classroom is only joined by the relevant students.
  • Zoom implemented a series of meeting protections to further secure meetings, such as unique meeting passcodes, creation of waiting rooms in which participants have to be approved by the host to join, the ability to approve or block meeting entry from specific countries/regions, among others.
  • If a harmful meeting disruption does occur, Zoom offers multiple ways in which users can report abuse either during or after a meeting has taken place.
  • Hosts and Co-hosts of a Zoom meeting can pause all meeting activity to remove and report offending participants.

The emergence of Covid-19 has created unique circumstances that have permanently altered the ways in which we use online spaces. As recently addressed during our expert insights webinar: "live-streamed abuse of minors", live-streamed abuse has become one of the fastest-growing types of CSAM within the last two years. Live stream platforms come in many shapes and forms, from single-viewer, single-direction services such as webcam shows, to video-conferencing sites such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Due to this, all companies that offer live-streaming services need to work on continuously adapting their trust and safety practices to fit the current digital environment. This can be achieved best if all stakeholders collaborate and share their resources to create a safe online environment for children and all users.

If you would like to learn more about what different stakeholders can do to protect children from the threat of live-streamed abuse, you can find more information here.

Zoom in the digital safety space
Photo by INHOPE

Zoom has continuously worked to adapt its digital safety practices to be able to offer a safe experience for children.