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Profanity-laced Zoom bombing disrupts Granite Shoals City Council meeting

Zoom screen

Zoom meeting participants appear in image squares on the popular remote meeting app. iStock image

The Granite Shoals City Council learned about Zoom bombing firsthand at its Tuesday, Oct. 26, meeting. About 20 minutes into the meeting, one of the online attendees began drawing inappropriate images of body parts in their Zoom window and cursing.

Mayor Will Skinner immediately called for a recess as city staff shut down the virtual meeting.

“We had to get out of (Zoom) and reboot,” City Manager Jeff Looney said.

After the recess, virtual attendees logged back on to the Zoom meeting using the same information. 

“Those same people were sitting in the chatroom (when we reconvened),” Looney continued. “We removed them, and we reported them to Zoom and Google. It looked like kid behavior to me. These kids need to understand they could lose their ability to have service. “

Granite Shoals began meeting virtually in spring 2020 when Gov. Greg Abbott announced stay-at-home orders because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first Zoom bombing the city has experienced. The term is used to describe unwanted or disruptive behavior by people attending remote Zoom meetings that can be seen and heard by other participants.

Granite Shoals Finance Director Russell Martin monitors the city’s virtual Zoom room. Virtual attendees have a link to the Zoom meeting and type in a code for access. A meeting host then lets them in. 

Looney noted that of the 10 virtual attendees on Oct. 26, three were approved, which means they were recognized by city staff. Staff members couldn’t pinpoint which attendee caused the disruption.

“We have no idea where they are located,” Looney said. “At this time, we have tried to bar them from attendance to meetings. We cannot ensure that this will not happen (again); however, we will do our best to screen attendees.”

Meetings are recorded and open to the public.

jfierro@thepicayune.com