INDIANAPOLIS — “Racism is still alive, unfortunately,” said Kristen Moyo.
That was never more apparent for Moyo than during a recent online meeting for the Autism Society of Indiana, of which Moyo is director of advocacy and public policy.
Moyo was moderating the discussion for a handful of people who had joined the Zoom meeting, including David Berman with Be Well Indiana. The meeting had just started when Moyo and Berman say their screens started flashing and they were "Zoom bombed" by three men.
“In their background avatars, there’s like a Confederate flag, there was Nazi paraphernalia. There was one person doing the Heil Hitler sign,” Moyo said.
“We saw faces with masks on,” said Berman.
A recording of the meeting didn’t capture what Moyo and Berman described, but it did capture Berman’s face as the three men ranted, swearing and saying racial slurs over and over again.
“I think we all just sat there in shock and didn’t know what to do or say,” said Berman.
“I was angry. I was confused. I felt frozen and powerless at the moment,” Moyo added.
The rant continued for at least 30 seconds.
Earlier this year, Zoom updated its software, disabling the ability to randomly scan for meetings and join them, making it harder for Zoom bombing to happen.
The incident happened despite the organization requiring participants to register to join.
“You could tell that it wasn’t just random because they were so coordinated in the things that they were saying,” Moyo said.
The Autism Society of Indiana reported the incident to Zoom, the FBI and IMPD, hoping what happened can be traced to those responsible.
“We will definitely look into some other platforms because we don’t want this to happen again,” said Moyo.
A Zoom spokesperson issued this statement about the incident:
“We have been deeply upset to hear about these types of incidents, and Zoom strongly condemns such behavior. We have recently updated a number of default settings and added features to help hosts more easily access in-meeting security controls, including controlling screen sharing, removing and reporting participants, and locking meetings, among other actions.
We have also been educating users on security best practices for setting up their meetings, including recommending that users avoid sharing private meeting links and passwords publicly on websites, social media, or other public forums, and encouraging anyone hosting large-scale or public events to utilize Zoom’s webinar solution.
We are committed to maintaining an equal, respectful and inclusive online environment for all users. We take meeting disruptions extremely seriously and where appropriate, we work closely with law enforcement authorities.
We encourage users to report any incidents of this kind to Zoom and law enforcement authorities so the appropriate action can be taken against offenders."