U.S.A. (NBC) (05/28/20)— The FBI has received more than 240 reports of people disrupting Zoom sessions by broadcasting videos depicting child sexual abuse, the agency said Wednesday.
The FBI is now enlisting the public’s help in identifying more such incidents, known as “Zoom-bombing.”
In a notice released on Wednesday, the agency provided an online questionnaire to be filled out by anyone who has been exposed to child abuse videos during a Zoom session.
“The FBI considers this activity to be a violent crime, as every time child sexual abuse material is viewed, the depicted child is re-victimized,” the notice says. “Furthermore, anyone who inadvertently sees child sexual abuse material depicted during a virtual event is potentially a victim as well.”
The FBI said the reports of the incidents came from within the U.S. and across the globe.
The use of Zoom and other video-conferencing platforms has soared during the coronavirus outbreak.
In recent months, the FBI has received a range of reports of Zoom “hijackers” broadcasting pornographic or hateful images during video conferences.
The agency’s Boston field office says two schools in Massachusetts were “zoom bombed.”
One incident took place in late March when an unidentified individual dialed into a high school teacher’s Zoom session, yelled a profanity, and then shouted the teacher’s home address in the middle of the instruction.
In the other case, a person accessed a school Zoom session and displayed swastika tattoos.
To avoid such incidents, the agency recommends requiring a password or using Zoom’s waiting room feature to screen guests, and never making teleconference links available on public social media posts. Users can also set the screen sharing option to “Host Only.”
“These incidents are truly devastating and appalling, and our user policies explicitly prohibit any obscene, indecent, illegal, or violent activity or content on the platform,” a Zoom spokesperson said. “Zoom strongly condemns such behavior and appreciates the FBI’s efforts to raise awareness around how best to prevent these kinds of attacks as well as their important work to help bring these offenders to justice.”
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