As we come to terms with lockdown, it’s no surprise that video parties have become popular. One platform that has gained notoriety is Zoom. Originally designed as a platform for organisations to collaborate online, Zoom is now popular with educators, young people and those looking for new ways to maintain their relationships. Here’s an overview of what you need to know and how to stay safe.
WHAT IS ZOOM?
Zoom is a free platform that offers a wide range of communication and collaboration features that allow users to interact and engage with each other online. These features include audio, video and text chat, group and 1:1 meeting options, screen sharing capabilities, call recording and end-to-end encryption.
Users (also known as administrators) create meetings on Zoom and share a unique Meeting ID with people who can then join the chat. Zoom is easy to use and lets you connect on any desktop or mobile device – making it appealing as a virtual classroom tool and a hangout spot for those looking to keep their social groups alive.
With the recent shift towards more home-based styles of working, learning and communicating, the use of audio and video conferencing apps has skyrocketed. Many people are now relying on these apps to connect with those outside their household whether that be friends, family, students or colleagues.
HOW DO YOU CREATE A ZOOM ACCOUNT?
Zoom offers a free option for users, allowing you to host a meeting with up to 100 people at once for a maximum of 40 minutes at a time. For those looking to use Zoom casually, this option should work nicely. If you’re looking for additional features like unlimited meeting minutes, Zoom has different plan options available.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE RISKS WITH ZOOM?
There are a lot of benefits to Zoom, but there are some risks people need to think about too.
- There is no age verification feature. Young people can participate in a Zoom session by using a unique Meeting ID sent to them by the host.
- There is little privacy. Administrators (meeting hosts) can see detailed information on each participant including IP addresses and location data, and can even access recordings of a meeting. Zoom also shares data about users with third parties.
- Strangers can ‘zoombomb‘ meetings especially if a Meeting ID is shared publicly.
- Every participant can share their screen with the group, with no warning.
WHAT’S NETSAFE ADVICE ON HOW TO STAY SAFE?
There’s a few things you can do to make your Zoom group a bit safer.
- Control your meeting attendees: Only send Meeting IDs to people you know to make sure only people you want to talk to join your Zoom.
- Create a password: When scheduling a Zoom, you can also select “require meeting password” to make your meeting more secure. You can then give this password to your intended participants.
- Use Zoom’s waiting room: When scheduling a meeting you can enable the waiting room feature which stops anyone from entering before you do. You’re then able to decide who can come and go from the chat.
- Lock the meeting: You can lock the meeting to prevent anyone else from joining. To do this, click the button that says “participants” and then click ”lock meeting”.
- Take control: As the Zoom host you can control what actions participants can perform. You can stop participants from unmuting their microphones, sharing screens, annotating content and showing their videos by using the control at the bottom of the meeting screen.
- Turn off file transfer: You can off this feature to stop your Zoom being bombarded with unsolicited content.
- Mute participants: If you’re hosting a public Zoom, consider muting/unmuting individual participants or all of them at one. You can also use the Mute Upon Entry feature to help with larger Zooms.
- Explore the technology: Before you host or join a meeting, familiarise yourself with Zoom’s features and privacy settings. If your child is going to be using Zoom for school or to chat with friends, it’s important to go over these settings together and set expectations and boundaries for using it.
- Protect your identity: When using audio and video sharing apps it’s important to protect yourself by not sharing any personal information about yourself with the app or other users if you don’t know. Stop and think carefully about the details you’re disclosing or whether they need to entered online.
If you have used Zoom and have any other online safety tips or experiences to share, let us know using the #stayconnectedstaysafe on social media.
If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you want help or expert incident advice, you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and available seven days a week.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
- Online report at netsafe.org.nz/report
- Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282