This message went out to faculty today:
We want to express our appreciation for all you’ve been doing to ensure our students are able to continue their educations while we’re all under restrictions required by Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.
We also appreciate the continued dedication of our campus community to providing an inclusive learning environment which foregrounds equity, safety and a sense of belonging for all members. To protect that, we want to alert you to potential issues with Zoom classes and meetings, and provide you with the tools to protect your classes and meetings.
“Zoom-bombing,” is when outsiders jump into Zoom sessions to disrupt them by sharing porn, racial epithets or other vulgar material. What we are seeing nationally:
- A bot or a student in a class shares a link to a class on a forum such as Discord, Reddit or 4chan, inviting trolls to disrupt the class.
- The trolls enter the class with screen-recording software running.
- They use screen-sharing, annotation and audio to disrupt the class, often with material of a racist or sexist nature.
- They post a recording of the incident to YouTube and other spaces to mock the reaction of teacher and students. The attacks are sometimes even livestreamed to others.
This isn’t just pranks, but in many cases crimes. The attacks expose our students to an unsafe learning environment, and particularly impact students and faculty from marginalized groups. The attacks are prevalent enough that the FBI has issued guidance on the matter.
We are working to get Zoom video defaults for WSU set to prevent such attacks, a practice that would involve a bit more work for smaller meetings but mitigate some of the worst vulnerabilities. In the meantime, we strongly urge everyone conducting course meetings with Zoom set your settings appropriately. The setting advice varies depending on the size of the gathering and the perceived risk. We bullet point our recommendations here, but you can find descriptions and how-tos in this article on the WSU Knowledge Base and on WSU Vancouver’s Emergency Online Blog.
Smaller classes (where all student names are recognizable to the instructor) should:
- Create a “waiting room” where the instructor manually grants permission at the beginning of class to students waiting for entry.
- Use this if your class is small and all student names are recognizable to you, or can be verified from a roster.
- If you can verify all students in this way, you do not need additional steps.
- Be sure to look for notification of late-arriving students and let them in as well.
- For extra protection, you may wish to add a password.
- Do not use this option if you will be unable to tell if late arriving students are class members.
Failing this, all classes should:
- Set a password to access the class.
- Disable screen-sharing by participants (can enable it when needed).
- Set “Who can share” in advanced sharing options to “only host.”
- Set chat option “Participant Can Chat With” to “Host only.”
- When sharing a screen (option appears then) set “Disable participants annotation” from the “More” options.
- Mute all participants on entry.
You may also wish to familiarize yourself with how to manage participants in a meeting, including how to remove participants if necessary. And, as always, consider using Zoom for only the aspects of your class that benefit from real-time video delivery.
If you witness a Zoom-bombing incident:
- Alert your department chair and academic director.
- Report it to the Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation as a potential bias-related incident.
- Contact the WSU Zoom team at email@example.com.
WSU Vancouver has an unwavering commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. This is a challenging time for all of us, including vulnerable and underrepresented populations, and we have been inspired by the quick action of our faculty in the move to alternative delivery. Thank you again for everything you’re doing for our students. If you have questions regarding Zoom protective practices and Zoom-bombing risks, contact Mike Caulfield.
Renny Christopher, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Obie Ford III, Associate Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Mike Caulfield, Director of Blended and Networked Learning