Top administrators at the University of Southern California apologized to the school community after some online classes fell prey to “Zoombombing,” disrupted by people making racist remarks.

“Zoombombing” is a relatively new frontier in internet trolling in which someone takes advantage of features of the Zoom video-conferencing platform to interrupt meetings and lectures. Many colleges and school districts have made greater use of Zoom following the cancellation of in-person classes amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to the university community, USC President Carol Folt and Provost Charles Zukoski wrote that they learned Tuesday that some online Zoom classes “were disrupted by people who used racist and vile language that interrupted lectures and learning.”

The two said they were “deeply saddened that our students and faculty have had to witness such despicable acts” and that they “should never have to endure behavior that is simply not tolerated in our community.”

“When students and faculty gather, there is a trust that it is a safe environment,” Folt and Zukoski wrote. “This trust has been breached by people intentionally trying to cause great harm at a time when our entire community is trying to cope with a global health crisis.”

USC’s information technology team is working to implement safeguards, Folt and Zukoski added, and new protocols will be put in place “to prevent this type of disruption.”

“We will be vigilant in determining who was responsible for these actions, and we are doing everything in our power to stop it right away,” they wrote. “We want to personally tell our students and faculty how deeply sorry we are for these disturbances in an already disruptive time.”


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