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Far-right racists in US are 'Zoombombing' Muslim groups during coronavirus lockdown meetings Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Far-right racists in US are 'Zoombombing' Muslim groups during coronavirus lockdown meetings

Zoom denounced those using the app to spread hate [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 April, 2020

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Far-right and white supremacist movements are hacking meetings of liberal and Muslim groups in the US, to spread their hateful and racist messages.
Far-right and racist groups in the US are using the video meeting platform Zoom to spread Islamophobic hate, as millions of people are forced to rely on the app due to the novel coronavirus lockdown.

Dubbed "zoombombing" by The New York Times following an extensive investigation into these spaces, there has been an increase in incidents of individuals and groups "raiding" Zoom meetings.

The Times found 153 Instagram accounts as well as Twitter profiles and private chats on Reddit and 4Chan message boards organising Zoom harassment campaigns.

This included a campaign of "sharing meeting passwords and plans for sowing chaos in public and private meetings".

It comes after a right-wing group infiltrated a Zoom call organised with the Concordia Forum, a global network of Muslim leaders who had been discussing ways to maintain spirituality and wellbeing during the coronavirus lockdown.

Zahed Amanullah told the publication that he had paused the meeting after he noticed a cursor begin to draw a racial slur across one of the slides.

Shortly after, the person who had hacked into the call began to screen-share a pornographic video and repeating the racial epithet verbally.

"We were all caught off guard," said Mr. Amanullah, a resident senior fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in London. "We had no clue where it was coming from."

In response, Zoom released a statement stating it "strongly condemns harassment of this kind and we have been reporting instances of this to various social platforms in order for them to take appropriate action".

Muslim groups aren't the only ones targeted by far-right groups.

Read More: Will coronavirus cancel Ramadan? Five things to brace for this Ramadan

Harassers have targeted Alcoholics Anonymous groups with a GIF of a person drinking alcohol, and sent racist images as messages in a meeting of the American Jewish Committee in Paris.

"Certain people are weaponising Zoom to sow division in society or spread hate," Mr. Amanullah said.

"Those of us who are of particular backgrounds and who are targets of hate bear the brunt of it."

The frequency of the incidents is such that the FBI issued a warning on Tuesday, stating that it had "received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic or hate images and threatening language" worldwide.


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