Yesterday, Travis Ketchum, CEO of Campaign Refinery and Contest Domination, Adam King, CEO of Think Like A Fish, and myself, decided to run an open Zoom call to help businesses and entrepreneurs with their marketing during these difficult times. We learnt what #ZoomBombing was the hard way.

We posted the link on social media and also sent out an email to our newsletter lists hoping to get as many people involved as possible. But we never expected what came next.

When we initially talked about running this session, the idea was to simply try to help as many people as we could during this difficult time. We are all experiencing the same things and it’s hard to figure out what to do next when no one knows what’s coming next.

So as we jumped on the call, it was great to see a few people starting to join in. Names we recognised. Friends. Colleagues. And a pair of testicles?

Yep.

Very quickly, things got a little out of hand. It was a Zoom apocalypse.

Before we’d had a chance to introduce ourselves, The room became flooded with people screaming, shouting profanities and trying to hijack the video feed with all kinds of dodgy content.

And I really do mean ALL kinds. From pornographic material through to racial slurs.

It’s safe to say, that escalated quickly.

In 90 seconds, what started off as a simple gesture of goodwill, turned into what can only be described as a car crash, of epic proportions.

We tried to mute all. Then tried to turn off video for some. And then realised that this simply wasn’t going to work.

The initial idea for an open Zoom call was simple. We didn’t want people to feel it was a “register for this event” type of occasion. It was meant to be a little impromptu and just an opportunity for like-minded people to come together and try to help others during a hard time.

Well, to say it didn’t work out as planned is something of an understatement. We did, however, learn just how prevalent the #ZoomBombing community is. (Something that I still can’t get my head around.)

During these times, I can understand some are bored, frustrated, or even borderline panicked. But wow. There are some messed up crazy people out there. Now, more than ever, with a lot of time on their hands and nothing much else to do.

These sorts of situations bring out the best, and unfortunately, the worst in humanity.

But, we’ve learnt now that a little control and a simple ’register before entry’ request seems to sort #ZoomBombing right out. No one joined to try and ruin the call once we had done that.

As Travis Ketchum said, “no good deed goes unpunished”.

I was amazed and shocked by what happened. But at the same time, I remembered that chaos always ensues and that there will always be those that simply “want to watch the world burn”.

Shame for the rest of us.

But here’s some advice.

  • No public links to Zoom rooms.
  • Better still, no public Zoom room at all. Password protect all your calls.
  • Go back to tried and tested platforms that work for large gatherings (like Go To Webinar, which we used thanks to Travis, offering easy registration and complete control over the room).

Don’t let these people stop you from doing something good.

We just need to learn to sidestep them and carry on as planned.

And remember, if you want to avoid testicles hitting your screens, get people to register. (Ironically, that works both ways.)

Chris Bruno