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The problem with public Zoom meetings and church services: Asshole trollers

The Rev. Laura Everett was giving a Zoom sermon this morning for the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain on lessons from the death of Lazarus in the age of coronavirus when some racist and homophobic Zoombombers showed up.

She reports that she and church members found themselves joined by "[F]olk who have nothing better to do than shout racist and anti-LGBT slurs to people trying to follow Jesus decided to enter. It was heartbreaking."

I believe in open doors at church AND in the safety of vulnerable people. I keep thinking about "Kenny" calling in from "Colorado" and what brokenness must be happening in his life to do such a thing. Pray for all wounded by his words, and pray for Kenny, whoever he is. ...

I, and my wife graciously running tech support for me should not have had to hear this. Neither should any child of God. This one hurt.

Watch her sermon (without the interruptions).

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As in Kenny from South Park? Either way, Kenny, you're a dick

Voting closed 13

A friend of mine in academia has had some similar issues - she shared some info from her college about Zoom settings that give intended users a little more control.

Waiting room in Zoom
Enable the Waiting Room Feature. This feature allows you to control who enters the room, and can be enabled per meeting, or for your entire account. First, be sure you've disabled "Join before Host." Don't recognize a participant name? Consider not admitting them in your room. You can also establish a greeting to welcome participants to the waiting room.


Voting closed 27

or kick them off entirely. Sad that people feel the need to do things like this.

Voting closed 22

Ever played an online game?

The internet is filled to the brim with griefers and trolls that get off saying and doing the worst things possible for a response.

Voting closed 19

aw man.. I manage a Zoom Corp account. and have done so for a few years (and few companies)

I HOPE these churches are paying for Zoom (well the host account is) because you get better security features, but here's some general tips that we sent out to our users.

1. Make sure passwords are enabled when creating a meeting (Administrators can force this)
2. Require a password for participants joining by phone
3. Enable Waiting rooms (Link to info)
4. Lock the meeting, once all participants have joined (any additional users will now need a passcode)
5. If you are having a large public meeting, turn off sharing.
6. Set the meeting to mute all participants (you can have people flag to ask a question), upon join

If you're an Zoom administrator (and you are reading this)

1. You can force all of the above items in Zoom's Admin portal (so users can't shut it off)
2. I'd also suggest turning on 2FA, and forcing people to login to Zoom to join your meeting. You can use Google or Facebook to authenticate, it'll help keep down on fraud.

I know some of the above is a bit obtrusive and prevents a bit of the openness of services, but in the digital age, it really is required.

An IT pro for nearly 30 years. IT always gets sucked into doing this so I'd like to make a suggestion tho:

I like Zoom. I do. It's great for video conferences and small to medium sized meetings. But something like a public meeting, I'm not entirely sure Zoom or GoToMeeting is the right tool for this. (especially what happened)

I'd like to suggest GoToWebinar, UStream, YouTube or some other livestream software. It's more of a 'one-way' broadcast. It's meant for the masses, nor really meant for two way communication (other than a 'chat window'). Some, such as GoToWebinar.. allow multiple speakers (think different people as apart of giving the service), but the masses would still "stream". Its all depends on the product and how much you want to spend. But it can be done.

You just need to think out of the box, and be prepared to spend a few bucks. I hate on MegaChurches like Joel Osteen's but they have been livestreaming their services for years and have it down pat. Sure they have the cash but there's cheaper alternatives too.

Edit: I've created a email alias, in case a church reads this and wants further info. I can't say I can help much, but happy to offer some limited advice/guidance.

Voting closed 47

#6 is the most important - to video/audio mute participates and only allow the host to unmute. People can ask questions in the chat or just email if the host doesn't want it to be public. With a paid option you can simultaneously stream on YouTube or Facebook. (Zoom should be kind and make this option free to non-profits.)

Having people register a few hours prior to the event and only send the passcode to people who have registered helps too. Most of these trolls aren't planning that far in advance.

Voting closed 15

#6 is important

And if you don't like passcodes, I'd say #3 is also pretty important. You could setup a volunteer member to monitor the waiting room and admit people. This might be the bridge to keep the services open to all, but allow some sort of filtering

and Neat suggestion about the live stream, I forget about their integrations, especially YouTube and Facebook. My company is a Google Enterprise customer so we get their live stream via Hangouts Meets.

But yeah I agree that Zoom should give this away for free, or at least offer special pricing to non-profits and churches who want to stream. They already are giving it away to schools for free till the end of the year.

(I gotta say Zoom willingness to do this is great, but I think they are starting to see how poorly they can scale.. just got emails about reducing to SD quality for more than 3 people if you are free. But hey, free load testing for them)

Voting closed 10

Great tips and advice.

Next mission: forensics to find these dirtbags!


Voting closed 3