FBI reports over 195 instances of child abuse broadcasted on Zoom

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Alexis Garrod, CrossFit Potrero Hill partner and head coach, talks with participants while instructing a class over Zoom in an empty gym, which closed for shelter in place orders over COVID-19 concerns, in San Francisco, Friday, April 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(WDVM) — The FBI is warning Zoom users of participants broadcasting videos of child abuse over the virtual meeting platform.

Now that COVID-19 has forced events to go virtual, many organizers are turning to video chat platforms like Zoom — which allows dozens of people to join in by clicking a shareable link. The FBI said in a press release that there has been over 195 reports of child sexual abuse material being broadcasted on Zoom over the past few months.

The FBI said when virtual event links are shared publicly online, it results in “a lack of vetting of approved participants.” Anyone who was exposed to the unsolicited videos can also be a victim, the agency said in its press release on May 20. If you were in a Zoom meeting when another participant broadcasted such material, here’s what the FBI recommends doing:

  • If you are the administrator or host of a Zoom meeting in which CSAM was broadcast, please contact the FBI; do not delete or destroy any of your computer logs without further direction.
  • If you recorded a Zoom meeting in which child sexual abuse material was broadcast, please contact the FBI for assistance in removing the CSAM from your device.
  • If you believe you are a victim of a child sexual abuse material broadcast during a Zoom event, as defined above, please contact the FBI to learn about your victim rights and possible victim assistance.
  • If you know who is committing these most recent egregious crimes, please contact the FBI.

To keep potential incidents like this from happening, the FBI advises to keep meetings private by requiring a password to join, and using the “waiting room feature” which allows the host to accept each guest.

The FBI also says to send links only to specific people in private messages, rather than sharing it on a public social media post. And lastly, the FBI advises changing a setting to make sure only the host can share their screen during the meeting.

If you are a victim of child sexual abuse material being broadcast during a Zoom event, please complete the brief questionnaire available at fbi.gov/ZoomCSAM. If you have information regarding the identity of any individual distributing or producing CSAM, please report it to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or anonymously online at tips.fbi.gov.

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