Zoombombing: What It Is and How to Handle It


You are sitting quietly at your desk, listening to your teacher explain a difficult concept to you. All of a sudden, there are 30 more people in your call. One begins loudly swearing, another shares explicit imagery on the screen, and the others begin shouting along saying things like “Hey, teacher!”, using racist slurs, and shouting out slang words for genitalia. You have just been “zoombombed.” Large groups of people joining another group, especially in other settings such as live streaming, might be known as raids and are normally fairly benign. However, many people have turned what used to be a lighthearted experience into something much more sinister.

On April 1, many classrooms experienced large numbers of random people joining their Zoom calls, causing many teachers to have to stop their lesson to get rid of the disrupters. According to Mr. Brewster, only a small number of classes have been raided in this way; however, it can also cause extreme disruptions in the lesson, which can be extremely detrimental to the students’ learning.

One instance of this happened in Ms. Corlett’s 9th grade geography class. One of her students, Cailyn, reported a young boy joined her class and began sharing his phone screen while he was playing Pokemon Go. Not long after Ms. Corlett had successfully removed him from the chat room, another person joined the call and began blasting explicit music containing racist slurs and explicit sexual innuendo. With so much going on, Cailyn said “Ms. Corlett had to actually end the class to get it under control.”

Another instance of Zoombombing occurred during the Grade 11, where Zoombombers joined the assembly and began shouting explicit and racist words. During this Extended Homeroom, the Grade 11 counselors and the Grade 11 Year Head, Ms. Cowan, shared important information regarding CAS and updates about how we are continuing during the DLP. I interviewed a few of the students present at the assembly, as well as Ms. Cowan.

One student, Abby, shared how the Zoombombing made her feel.  “I have only experienced zoom bombing once, in a grade-wide assembly, and it was very uncomfortable nonetheless. The teachers were shocked and did not know what to do and the students as well. My best guess is that it was a April Fools prank, but very distasteful.  Shouting racial slurs and drawing pornographic images on the board is disrespectful and offensive. Sadly, we do live in a time where things like that are considered ‘funny.’”

Other students mentioned finding it somewhat funny, even mentioning that some of the teachers were laughing at the situation. It is worth noting, however, that laughter could also be a sign of people being uncomfortable in this type of situation. One student, Mili, said, “Actions like the ones that took place during our homeroom session today are comedic at first but slowly become intruding and inappropriate. They make zoom an unsafe space, which is a pity since Zoom is something that makes this unusual and scary circumstance a bit better.”

“Well I feel victimized for sure. My first reaction was to remove the stranger that I saw but while I was doing that about 20 more flooded in and I knew I had to shut it down fast. I knew grade 11 would understand, even as shocking as it all was. When I tried my next lesson with my middle school class I was really concerned. Really sad that this is the energy some want to put into the world. Keep fighting the good fight.” 

Many of the students could also understand why someone might Zoombomb, but they still found it inappropriate. Mili also noted, “I guess it’s sort of understandable… you are quarantined and bored out of your mind, so you decide to bother someone else. It’s understandable but not really acceptable.”

“I think that they are people with too much time due to being quarantined, and while they may be annoying to deal with, Zoom should really get their security issues in check,” stated Conor, another student present during the assembly.

After speaking to some of the students, I was able to contact Ms. Cowan for a short interview about her experience during the Zoombombing. She provided the following statement.

In other cases, the Zoombombing can be fairly benign. Kylie, from Grade 9, said, “One time, some random man joined my art class, but all he said was ‘Good morning’ and that it was a beautiful day out. We didn’t hear anything from him and didn’t see anyone. He typed those two things into the chat and then left.”

I was able to speak to Mr. Brewster about how many times he heard of Zoombombing happening. He mentioned receiving relatively few incidents, though the extent of the Zoombombing varied across these incidents. He mentioned preparing a document which would provide more information, which would be shared with the teachers. He said that dealing with Zoombombing “will be manageable” and that “[the school’s tech support team] has a pretty good handle on it.”

He provided the following tips on preventing Zoombombing from happening to your class:

  • Enable waiting rooms, which works especially well in small numbers and you know your class
  • Lock the meeting once all students have joined. Locking the meeting prevents new people from joining the call and waiting room after you have let everyone in.
  • Require a password to be used to join the call. This will make it more difficult for potential Zoombombers to join the class.
  • Muting everyone upon arrival will stop loud music or people who wish to disrupt from speaking
  • Generate a new meeting ID each class instead of using your Personal Meeting ID


To enable these settings, here is a quick guide I compiled explaining how to activate the settings.

While there is no method that will keep every Zoombomber out, taking these steps will help significantly reduce the chances of such an occurrence from happening. Mr. Brewster said that so far, most teachers have been reacting in the correct manner and the best way to stop the Zoombombing once it has happened is by ending the meeting.

Zoombombing is a new phenomenon that has arisen during this time in quarantine. While a rare occurrence, Zoombombing has the potential to be extremely disruptive to the learning environment, and the potential  to be extremely offensive. It is up to everyone to be informed on the best way to handle these situations and to spread that information to others.