Civic News
COVID-19 / Social media

After racist ‘Zoom bombing,’ US Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester speaks out on Twitter

"You did not succeed," said Delaware's representative.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester responds to a bigoted Zoom bombing on April 29. (Screenshot)

If there is one company that has made a name for itself since employees around the world have been ordered to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s Zoom. Founded in 2011 by Eric Yuan, the San Jose, California-based company has grown steadily over the past decade.

It was the pandemic, though, that made it ubiquitous. And that has made it an attractive target for “Zoom bombing,” a form of cybercrime that aims to cause trauma by disrupting virtual gathering with overtly bigoted messages or graphic images.

“People will jump on these chats and create disruption,” said Anahi Santiago, ChristianaCare’s chief information security officer, in a recent interview with The goal, she said, is the disruption itself, unlike other cybercrimes where the goal is to steal information. “We’re not seeing too many where the attackers are actually listening to steal information, but I think we’ll probably hear about those types of attacks in the near future.”

Many of the attacks are openly racist, and some target children. This week, an African American student group at the University of South Carolina was bombarded with racist images and slurs, a Zoom church service was interrupted with a cross burning video, and a fifth-grade class was Zoom bombed with graphic pornography.

Delaware U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, who in 2017 became the first woman and the first African American to represent Delaware in Congress, was added to the list on Wednesday, when a Zoom meeting with the small business community was interrupted with bigoted messaging.

“It was racist and sexist and immature,” Blunt Rochester said.

Soon after, with emotions still raw from the incident, the representative posted a three-minute response to social media.

“My first reaction was not to be upset,” she said. “My first reaction was that we will not let hate take us down. And I think that that is the message right now for this whole epidemic. It’s about, who are we? Who will we be when this is all over?”

She also had a message for the rest of the community: “Thank you. Every day I get called from people who have either lost someone, or are sick themselves and who are scared. I want to say thank you to those of you who are counseling, helping us keep the stores stocked, everything that you’re doing, thank you.

“To that person who was trying to destroy the positivity of what we were doing getting that information out to those small businesses: You did not succeed.”

Watch the full video:

Companies: Zoom

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