News

Forget Facebook: Zoom is the tech industry’s newest problem child

Just like every other platform that’s exploded in popularity, the videoconferencing system has problems with child pornography and privacy.

This story may sound familiar: A tech company, basking in the glow of viral user growth, becomes an investor darling. Over the span of just a few months, the company’s valuation doubles. More than that, it becomes a cultural phenomenon, beloved by users of all ages and flooded with examples of feel-good creativity.

But there is a dark underside to this company. It has a child abuse problem. And a porn problem. And a privacy problem. Does anyone care?

Today, the problem platform is Zoom, but there’s a reason this narrative feels like déjà vu. It’s because we’ve seen it before with YouTube, Facebook, and every other Silicon Valley platform that has spent the past decade monetizing users while evading regulation. Moreover, we’ll see it with every platform that follows, unless we finally make policy changes that protect users and hold platforms accountable.

There were problems with Zoom well before our current moment. A lifetime ago, way back in 2015, Pennsylvania courts sent a man to prison for broadcasting his rape of a 6-year-old boy to viewers on Zoom. Federal prosecutor Austin Berry referred to Zoom as “the Netflix of child pornography” in his closing remarks, according to The New York Times.

Zoom says it has improved its ability to police such content. But over the last several weeks, as people self-isolating at home have flocked to the service, many are seeing their happy hours and discussion groups “Zoombombed” by users broadcasting graphic pornography.

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