It takes a whole different level of depravity to crash an online Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and troll addicts into breaking their sobriety during a national quarantine, but, apparently, there are such depraved people in the world.
According to Business Insider, the New York Inter-Group Association had been hosting Alcoholics Anonymous meetings via Zoom for the past several weeks in response to the COVID-19 lockdown. On Tuesday, a meeting went south when a troll crashed the online event to taunt the addicts about how “alcohol is soooo good” while shouting misogynistic and anti-semitic slurs.
“Meeting organizers quickly muted the intruder and removed them – but by then the meeting had been derailed and more than half of the participants had left,” reported Business Insider.
This phenomenon, known as “Zoom-bombing,” wherein trolls crash videoconferences to taunt those in session, has seen an uptick during the pandemic for obvious reasons. Multiple New York Inter-Group AA meetings have fallen prey to this unfortunate cyber attack, which are mostly organized on 4chan and Discord forums.
“One YouTube channel has uploaded multiple videos showing Zoom trolling – one clip appeared to show trolls flashing bottles of whiskey in an AA meeting before it was scrubbed from YouTube, PCMag reported on Tuesday,” continued Business Insider.
In response, Zoom recently published helpful guidelines on ways for organizations to shield themselves from these attacks. The situation has gotten bad enough that the FBI in Boston recently warned people to be on the lookout after trolls disrupted two school videoconferences.
From NBC News:
Use of Zoom and other video-conferencing platforms has soared during the coronavirus outbreak, and now the FBI in Boston is warning users to watch out for “Zoom-bombing,” in which hijackers disrupt Zoom sessions with pornography, profanity and hate.
The FBI says two schools in Massachusetts were “Zoom bombed,” with one hijacker yelling profanity and another displaying swastika tattoos.
To avoid such incidents, the bureau recommends requiring a password or using Zoom’s waiting room feature to screen guests, and never making teleconference links available on public social media posts. Users can also set the screensharing option to “Host Only.”
Speaking with Business Insider, a Zoom representative said the company is “deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this kind of attack,” and outlined ways for users to protect themselves.
“For those hosting large, public group meetings, we strongly encourage hosts to review their settings and confirm that only the host can share their screen,” said the representative. “For those hosting private meetings, password protections are on by default and we recommend that users keep those protections on to prevent uninvited users from joining.”
During this time of intense quarantine, addicts are especially prone to break sobriety as their support network crumbles under the weight of necessary social distance orders.
“We are all in our separate homes. And that can be dangerous, because alcoholics are notorious for isolating, for withdrawing from social situations – sometimes with a bottle,” one Business Insider employee said of their experience. “If you drink normally, you may be wondering, ‘Why not just drink – even if you have a problem? Right now, while locked down, who could that hurt?’ I can answer that. I drank myself into the emergency room years ago. I know many people who did. Do you think hospitals need that right now? Do you think healthcare workers need to deal with millions of people whose immune systems are severely compromised by binge drinking?
“What if we need to drive someone to the hospital? I drove many times in a blackout. What if, drunk, I needed more booze and went on a calamitous excursion to get it?” the employee continued. “Instead, I can try to be of service to someone who is alone or suffering. That service is what keeps me sober.”