Safer Internet Day 2022: How Zoom Works to Protect Kids Online

Every year, Safer Internet Day arrives in early February to remind us all just how important it is to protect digital experiences in an ever-evolving virtual world. As the event commemorates its 19th year, we at Zoom are reflecting on its theme, “Together for a better internet,” and how we’ve done our part to create trusted online experiences for today’s users, especially children and young people, many of whom have turned to Zoom for learning.

Here’s an in-depth look at the people, processes, policies, and products we’ve deployed to help make Zoom a safe space, as well as how we contribute to making the internet a better place as a whole.

Rising to a new kind of challenge 

Zoom’s Trust & Safety team is dedicated to processing all inbound reports of abuse and harm on our platform, as well as developing new ways to stop abuse before it happens. The team has always been tailored to our existing customer base, which radically changed in the early months of 2020. 

As our customer base broadened in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, so did the use cases for our platform, with schools, enterprises, healthcare organizations, and more adapting and modernizing their services via our technology. With these new use cases came new demands for the Trust & Safety team, and we scaled our program quickly to protect a growing customer base, which includes children attending virtual school around the world. 

So, we ramped up our efforts — recruiting experienced and committed team members, and acclimating our processes to the new demands on our platform. 

Progress starts with people and process

To remain sustainable as our company scaled, the Trust & Safety team up-leveled and built out our processes to better serve the modern needs of our users. These updates included:

Response to reports of abuse: While all reports of abuse used to come to a single queue, we’ve scaled our operations to create a multi-level, systematic approach to handling reports, with different types of reports handled in order of priority. We have a streamlined dashboard that collects reports in one place, displays all the information needed to make a decision quickly, and generates meaningful data for us to learn and refine our processes. We also have a dedicated National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) API that allows us to report instances of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) directly to NCMEC from our dashboard.

Internal policies: We regularly review, update, and create new internal processes to best meet the needs of our users. This includes processes for how we respond to reports of CSAM, meeting disruptions, suicide and self-harm, abuse, glorification of violence, and more.

Community Standards and reporting: In October 2020, we published our Community Standards, which govern the entire Zoom platform and describe the types of content and behavior we prohibit. To provide transparency into how we’ve imposed these standards, we’ve created the Community Standards Enforcement Report, which outlines the issues and violations addressed and resolved for specific countries during a certain time.

Tools designed to keep kids safe online 

At Zoom, our teams work in lockstep to build solutions with our users in mind. Trust & Safety has established a feedback loop with our engineering team so they can innovate with intention and build features that are necessary to help protect Zoom users. 

Here are a few of the features that are designed to help keep users safe online — which schools can easily deploy for virtual learning: 

At-Risk Meeting Notifier: Designed to proactively identify any issues with meeting privacy, this tool scans posts on public social media sites and other public online resources for Zoom Meeting links. If the link to your online classroom link was posted online, Zoom account owners and admins will receive an email notification. We’ve sent out 100,000+ emails since September 2020, when we turned the tool on.

Approve or block entry to users from specific regions/countries: The feature allows meeting hosts to block participants from certain geographical areas from joining a meeting, so that a virtual classroom is only joined by the relevant students. We find that, in many cases, those disrupting meetings are not from the same area as an account owner.

Waiting Room chat: The Waiting Room is an important feature for securing a Zoom Meeting. Just like it sounds, the Waiting Room is a virtual staging area that stops meeting attendees from joining until the host is ready for them. Participants can also engage with meeting hosts in a two-way chat in the Waiting Room. Hosts can message the entire Waiting Room or specific participants, and attendees can reply back, creating an environment where hosts can vet users to make sure they’re legitimate students before the meeting ever starts. 

Reporting abuse: If someone is disrupting a meeting or online learning session, Zoom offers multiple ways to report abuse. From within a meeting, hosts can report abuse by tapping “Participants” in the meeting controls, selecting the name of the participant they would like to report, then selecting “Remove and Report.” The participant will immediately be removed from the meeting, and the host will have to fill out a quick form explaining the incident. Participants can also report other attendees through the meeting information icon in the top-left corner of the window. Hosts can even report instances of abuse after a meeting or webinar ends, by following the instructions in this support article or by filling out our Trust Form.  

Suspend Participant Activities: Hosts and co-hosts can pause the meeting to remove and report an offending party and prevent further disruption. Click the Security icon and select “Suspend Participant Activities” to temporarily halt all video, audio, in-meeting chat, annotation, screen sharing, recording, and end Breakout Rooms. You can resume the meeting by re-enabling the individual features.

A dedication to safety 

At Zoom, we know the best outcomes happen when we work together. That’s why we’ve joined or partnered with important organizations dedicated to child safety, including the Internet Watch Foundation, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, WeProtect Global Alliance, Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC), and more. These organizations help us identify and implement the best practices to create a safe experience for children using Zoom.

These organizations — along with technology providers like Zoom — all play a fundamental role in protecting children in an increasingly digital age. As the virtual landscape and education continue to evolve, it’s important we all work together to make the internet a safer and better place for all. 

We know there’s always more work to do, but we’re ready to tackle these challenges head-on, together. 

To learn more about our Trust & Safety practices here at Zoom, visit our Trust Center

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