Now that most colleges and universities have moved their classes to online lectures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic many are utilizing the popular Zoom video conferencing tool.
But a University of Texas at Austin organization had to cut their Monday (March 30) session short after someone logged on and began hurling racial slurs at Black students.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that director Ryan Sutton was engaging in conversation in an online meeting hosted by the Heman Sweatt Center for Black Males, a campus initiative that targets its support to African-American male students. Halfway through the Zoom meeting, students reported that unknown users suddenly appeared in the video chat shouting racial slurs, according to the newspaper.
The Sweatt Center chastised the actions on its official Twitter page.
“We denounce the actions of the hackers in our call and are working to better our newly found space on Zoom,” the center said.
Greg Fenves, President of the University of Texas at Austin, responded to the racist incident in a tweet on Monday evening calling the actions “reprehensible” and saying that the school is investigating the incident.
The FBI released a warning the same day about “Zoom bombing” and other virtual threats.
“As large numbers of people turn to video-teleconferencing (VTC) platforms to stay connected in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, reports of VTC hijacking (also called “Zoom-bombing”) are emerging nationwide. The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.”
Letitia James, the New York Attorney General, also sent a letter to Zoom to inquire about any new measures the platform is considering for stricter user privacy as the online traffic increases due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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