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Stop Zoombombers from Breaking Up Your Online Meeting

Now that everyone is doing their best to conduct business from home, meeting sites like Zoom have seen an incredible uptick on the number of people using their services. That’s great since it means we can all get together in some form, see other people’s faces, and share information across screens.

Except, it’s also not so great as random hackers of various persuasions have discovered it’s relatively easy to interrupt your business meeting with inappropriate content – pornography, offensive graphics, racial slurs.

While Zoom is doing what it can to curtail the issue, there are a few things you can do on your end to make sure your next online meeting doesn’t devolve into teenage locker room shenanigans or end on a hyper-sour note with nothing accomplished.

If your meeting is about a sensitive business topic, you could be risking more dangerous results.

Random IDs vs. Personal IDs

people meeting onlineFirst, if your meeting is intended for an unknown public group – maybe you’re trying to get a group of beginner yoga students together – be sure to set up your meeting on a randomized ID rather than your personal ID.

Yes, personal IDs are convenient and may be appropriate to use for a small, known group of people, but once your personal meeting ID goes public on social media or anywhere, anyone who knows it is able to join any video call.

Randomized IDs, on the other hand, change frequently enough that it will be hard for pranksters, zoombombers, to find your specific meeting.

If your group is tackling an especially sensitive topic and/or you want to ensure an uninterrupted meeting, you can also enable passwords, then send the password to each invited guest as part of the invitation. Even if a zoombomber does find your meeting, it will be more difficult for them to pop in for some mayhem.

Restrict Sharing

Next, when you start your meeting, as host, be sure to restrict screen sharing so only you have power over the video.

To do this, click on the tiny arrow next to the Share Screen icon to open your Advanced Sharing Options control bar. Once that’s open, you’ll see the option to restrict sharing to Only Host.

Yes, that means you’re the only person who will be able to share information on the screen. If you have a presenter, one way around this is to have the presenter send you their files prior to the meeting and just let you know when to change slides. It may be an added inconvenience, but much better than having naked people pop up on screen uninvited.

Bonus tip: You can make Host Only screen sharing your default setting for all Zoom meetings in your web settings by checking the Prevent others from Screen Sharing option.

You can also turn off File Sharing and Annotation to make sure no one in the meeting starts receiving unwanted files or drawings.

Control the Room

If passwords don’t work for your situation, control who is actually in your meeting by enabling the waiting room feature of Zoom, which gives you control over who you will allow.

Doing a roll call at the start of the meeting can ensure all attendees are accounted for. If you know you have 15 people in the call and only 12 of them responded to roll call, you definitely need to find out where those extra two people are (don’t forget to count yourself!).

Once everyone has arrived, you can lock the room so no one else can join unexpectedly. You also have the power to remove unwanted guests from the meeting (or let them back in), turn off video sharing, mute all attendees, and disable private chats.  

While we’re all working to stay afloat and stay together at the same time we all keep our physical distance from each other, Zoom and other meeting platforms are absolutely necessary. Make sure your meetings go smoothly by taking full control of the tool.

You can learn more about Zoom’s features through their video help center here.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Catherine Lanser

    These are fantastic tips I wouldn’t have thought of! I’m passing on to a group I am a part of.

    1. Wendy

      So glad they were helpful! Zoom is a great tool, especially now. I hate to see it abused and want to help everyone stay on track.

  2. Sarah Miller

    Great advice, Wendy! I’ve used ZOOM more in the last month than my entire lifetime before that! But it’s a great tool I think I’ll continue to use a lot, even after “this” is all over. Thanks for the tips.

    1. Wendy

      I love Zoom, too. I was using it a lot even before all meetings went to online. Made me upset to think people were abusing such a useful tool.

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