Zoombombing at Montclair State University Creates Concern for Students

By

Published May 6, 2020
A A A Share
The Montclarion
Ian Long | The Montclarion

Since the transition to online instruction in March, Montclair State University’s campus has reported 13 total cases of Zoombombing.

Summer R. Jones, assistant vice president of technical support services, explained that Zoombombing is when an unauthorized person gains access to a meeting and disrupts it by sharing images, making noise or playing sounds.

“We have had approximately 13 faculty and staff report directly to us cases of what is being termed Zoombombing,” Jones said. “This is out of the 38,491 meetings that have been run since March 23, 2020.”

A linguistics student, who wished to remain anonymous due to fear of distancing from the department, explained that during a language and culture lecture, an unidentified male entered the Zoom lecture and shouted “The Weeknd’s album is trash” before promptly leaving the lecture.

“I thought it was hilarious, I was muted, I keep my microphone muted, so I don’t know anyone else’s reaction,” the linguistics student said. “My professor was kind of upset, she was just like, ‘Who was that? I can’t believe someone got in.’”

The student explained that their professor, Liubou Shefarevich, had set a password to access the lecture prior to this event. The student has never used the password since it’s a recurring link and isn’t sure if Shefarevich has since fixed it.

“I mean, Canvas has its own kind of streaming service, the BigBlueButton,” the linguistics student said. “I don’t understand why we couldn’t do that.”

Shefarevich has not replied to emails for a request to comment.

Zoom has received criticism for having bugs that may compromise webcam and password security, while also currently facing a class-action lawsuit for not informing users about sharing data with Facebook, according to an article from Forbes.

Kris Delgado, a freshman public health major, explained that she thought Zoom was an unsafe way for lectures to happen.

“Even if I do have [Zoom] closed out I’ll notice that my microphone is still on, and I have a piece of tape covering the camera, but I can’t really cover the microphone,” Delgado said.

According to Jones, Information Technology currently recommends professors to use either Canvas Conferences, formerly known as BigBlueButton, Zoom or Google Meet.

Jones also commented on how well Montclair State adapted to the shift of a once thriving campus to an online presence.

“Given how fast the public health emergency developed, Montclair State did an incredible job moving all courses to online, setting up all faculty, staff and students with Zoom accounts and providing training and help desk support,” Jones said.

Join the Conversation