Texas High School Class Zoom-Bombed by Ku Klux Klan Image, Racist and Sexual Content

A virtual meeting of a high school class in San Antonio was Zoom-bombed last week after someone gained access to the meeting link and began sharing racist and sexual content with the students.

The Zoom bomber accessed one of MacArthur High School's remote geometry classrooms by using the name of one of the students enrolled in the class, but a picture of two individuals dressed in Ku Klux Klan hoods accompanied the account instead of the student's real photo, the parent of the student told Houston-based television station KHOU.

The Zoom bomber shared illicit content on the virtual meeting site for about 40 minutes before one of the student's parents noticed and alerted the school, according to KHOU. The person sharing the content left the meeting room before school officials arrived in the virtual space to boot out the intruder, the station reported.

The school's principal, Peter Martinez, said in a letter sent to parents of the geometry class students that the space the Zoom bomber accessed was not the actual class meeting space but a virtual waiting room that students must access before the teacher allows them in.

Zoom class meeting
Bottles of hand sanitizer sit next to a laptop showing a Zoom meeting as students begin fall semester classes at the University of New Mexico on August 17. In San Antonio, a Zoom bomber targeted a virtual geometry class, sharing racist and sexual content with the students. Sam Wasson/Getty

"As the teacher began granting access to everyone in the waiting room, an individual used another student's name to enter the class," Martinez wrote in the letter, which was obtained by KHOU. "The individual then proceeded to disrupt the class by making racial slurs and showing racist and sexual images."

Martinez said officials were investigating the incident and advised teachers to keep watch on each student's account as they wait to join virtual class spaces. The school was also offering students the opportunity to meet with counselors if they were upset by the images that the Zoom bomber shared, Martinez's letter said.

"We take this very seriously and do not tolerate this type of behavior. If the person responsible is a student, they will face serious disciplinary consequences. If it is not a student, we are working to find out who it is," Martinez wrote. He emphasized in the letter's conclusion that the student whose name the Zoom bomber used was not at fault.

Aubrey Chancellor, executive director of communications at the North East Independent School District, told Newsweek that Zoom bombers like the one who attacked the geometry class are "doing it to get attention." The district, which says on its website that it is the second largest by student population in San Antonio, with about 64,000 enrolled students, decided to begin its school year with at least three weeks of virtual learning because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor said the Zoom bomber did not hack into a database. Instead, "what we are seeing is that students are sometimes sharing links over social media to help each other out, and someone else can see it and it has the students' names as well."

Many schools in the U.S. are using platforms like Zoom to assist with reopening virtually in the fall. Earlier this month, Zoom offered teachers guidance on hosting remote class meetings on its blog, along with tips for security and engagement.

A Zoom spokesperson told Newsweek that the company was looking into the incident and pointed to several posts on the Zoom blog that explained ways in which users can take security precautions to protect their meeting spaces.

"We have been deeply upset to hear about these types of incidents, and Zoom strongly condemns such behavior," the spokesperson said. "We have recently enabled meeting passwords and virtual waiting rooms by default for users enrolled in our K-12 program, and also updated the default screen share settings to ensure teachers are the only ones who can share content in class.

"Zoom is committed to providing educators with the tools and resources they need on a safe and secure platform, and we are continuing to engage with all of our users on how they can best utilize Zoom's security features to protect their meetings. We take meeting disruptions extremely seriously and where appropriate, we work closely with law enforcement authorities. We encourage users to report any incidents of this kind to Zoom and law enforcement authorities so the appropriate action can be taken against offenders."

Updated 8/24 at 1:26 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include a response from Zoom.