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USU election information Zoom session invaded by anonymous trolls

The users spammed the call with offensive and pornographic material.

The University of Sydney Union’s (USU) election information session held via the University’s Zoom account has been trolled this afternoon. In what appears to be a coordinated effort, several individuals joined the call and exposed participants to pornographic material, images of swastikas, confederate flags, and nudity. 

In addition to sharing material, multiple individuals joined under the same display name and shared their video feeds throughout the meeting, occasionally making threatening gestures. Some obscured their appearance with masks and filters, and others remained unmasked. 

A number of other anonymous users also joined under fake names, such as “ray pist”, and spammed the Zoom chat with offensive material. One user under the name of “Leonard Krog” exposed his buttocks using the video chat function. 

USU Board Director Cady Brown told Honi she believes she was hacked during the meeting. Brown lost control of her cursor function and her Zoom shut down. However, she was later able to rejoin the meeting.

Following the trolling, USU staff, including Board Secretary Dane Luo, took measures to remove the individuals trolling the call. They also disabled the chat, ability to annotate on the screen share function, and muted all participants that weren’t hosts. All Honi Soit editors who attempted to join the meeting were removed from the call. Honi is not aware of any other participants removed in error. 

The USU intends to raise this incident with the University at today’s meeting hosted by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) Philippa Pattinson on “the shift to online learning and assessment.”

This incident is part of a broader trend known as “Zoombombing” popular on sites such as 4Chan and 8kun (previously 8Chan) in which trolls crash, spam and disrupt meetings with offensive material. The subreddit r/Zoombombing, another forum dedicated to organising these raids, was recently permanently banned by Reddit administrators.

In a statement to Honi, the University said “we are deeply concerned by this disturbing report, and do not condone any discriminatory behaviour. We will be investigating as a matter of urgency.”

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