I had heard of this phenomenon, where an unwelcome guest joins a Zoom meeting with the sole purpose of causing disruption, but I was never particularly concerned because I knew I could just kick the person out. However, what I didn’t anticipate was that there might be more than one unwelcome guest. Here’s what happened.
We had our monthly volunteer Aberdeen Cycle Forum meeting last night. It was done via Zoom which is what we’ve been using every month since March. The meeting is open to everyone but often we don’t get many attendees. Last month no one came at all except myself and the chair of the forum. This month I decided to publicise it a bit better and shared the link twice on Twitter and once in a Facebook post. This turned out to be a mistake.
We had nine attendees which was a fantastic turnout. About ten minutes into the meeting a couple of new people joined. We said welcome and then continued. Then another person joined, and another, and another and very suddenly I was hearing ping, ping, ping constantly as many many people started joining all at once. At the same time, it became very noisy because these newcomers were playing loud music and making a lot of noise and then I saw the butt: someone was videoing their bottom.
I was pretty sure it was a Zoombomb when all the people joined in a short space of time but when I saw the butt it rather confirmed it. When you have one disruptive person in a Zoom meeting it’s quick and easy to kick them out. But with a sudden torrent of many disruptive people it was a little tricky and I’ll admit I got a bit flustered. I had to do several things all at the same time: lock the meeting, turn off the butt, mute everyone, then kick out all the hijackers. Kicking them all out took some time. I don’t know exactly how many people joined but let this be a lesson for you – don’t share Zoom meeting links on social media!
It’s tricky for us because we want our meetings to be open to everyone but we don’t know every cyclist in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire so it’s not obvious who is meant to be there. Perhaps we need to use the waiting room feature and then ask people who want to join a question that only Aberdonians would know the answer to? Either that or it’s going to be for members only and we email the password.
In any case, it could have been much worse and it was a little bit funny. Daniel was in hysterics when I told him and wanted to know every little detail. Ben just wanted to know whether the butt was hairy and I honestly don’t remember.