Anti-Defamation League on antisemitic Zoombombing

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Title

Anti-Defamation League on antisemitic Zoombombing

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The ADL created a list of instances of antisemitic "Zoombombing," where perpetrators intruded on synagogue services, Torah classes, or other meetings held on the Zoom video conferencing service.

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April 6, 2020

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article

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English

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Anti-Defamation League

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Judaism
Antisemitism

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Anti-Semitism in the US
Cyberhate
Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry

What is "Zoombombing" and Who is Behind It?

* April 6, 2020

zoom bomb zoom bomb

On March 24, 2020, a white supremacist interrupted a webinar about
antisemitism hosted by a Massachusetts Jewish student group by pulling
his shirt collar down to reveal a swastika tattoo on his chest. A day
later, a similar incident occurred in California when someone disrupted
an online class hosted by a JCC (Jewish Community Center); the
perpetrator launched into a minutes-long, profanity-laced, antisemitic
rant and removed his shirt to display a swastika tattoo on his chest.
The Center on Extremism examined screenshots of the individual behind
both incidents and believes him to be Andrew Alan Escher Auernheimer, a
known white supremacist and hacker.

As documented by ADL, Auernheimer--also known as "weev"--has a long
history of publicly expressing his antisemitic and racist views and
exploiting technology in order to gain attention. In 2016,
Auernheimer claimed credit for sending white supremacist fliers to
thousands of networked printers on college campuses around the country.
The fliers blamed Jews for destroying the country "through mass
immigration and degeneracy" and advertised the neo-Nazi website, The
Daily Stormer. A few months later, in two subsequent waves of fliering,
Auernheimer depicted Jews being killed and raped, and called for
supporting and defending acts of violence against anyone he perceived
as "anti-white." Later that same year, Auernheimer also participated in
a harassment campaign against Jewish journalists on Twitter.

Auernheimer has referred to himself as a "white nationalist
hacktivist," and previously was sentenced to 41 months in federal
prison, where he served slightly more than a year on federal charges
related to computer hacking. That conviction and sentence were
overturned in 2014 for improper venue issues. In a piece on The Daily
Dot, he describes himself as "a long-time critic of Judaism, black
culture, immigration to Western nations, and the media's constant
stream of anti-white propaganda." Auernheimer also expressed these
views in a 2014 post on The Daily Stormer, in which he ranted against
"the Jews" for building "an empire of wickedness the likes the world
has never seen." In 2009, he created several videos containing
antisemitic ramblings and comments, which alerted the FBI to
Auernheimer's location; the FBI warned him not to go near Jewish
congregations or agencies.

As the coronavirus pandemic has led to more people spending time at
home and conducting school and business online, an increasing focus has
been placed on certain technologies and their ability to facilitate
hate and harassment. Reports of "Zoombombing," a reference to the
popular video conferencing platform Zoom in which virtual meetings are
disrupted by graphic or threatening messages, have quickly garnered
attention across the country. Inside Higher Ed reported incidents
targeting virtual classrooms at Arizona State University and the
University of Southern California, as well as a children's storytelling
session in New Jersey. According to NBC News, during a virtual Torah
lesson on March 22, multiple people interrupted the session by sharing
antisemitic images and language. In Thousand Oaks, California, an
online school board meeting was cut short after someone shared
pornographic images, as well as a Nazi flag and swastika. These reports
have become so widespread that the FBI issued a warning about the
hijacking of video conferences and online classrooms on March 30.

Across various social media platforms, extremists have already seized
on the coronavirus pandemic as a vehicle to spread their hate and
conspiracies. While some Zoombombing incidents can be attributed to
internet trolls without particularly malicious intentions, there is
concern that extremists are also increasingly exploiting this newfound
reliance on video conferencing technology to target certain groups or
advance their hateful messages.

There is increasing evidence that Zoombombing attacks are being
coordinated or encouraged on a range of mainstream and fringe online
platforms. Various reports, including articles from Insider and PCMag,
indicate that some incidents are being perpetrated by "bored" teenagers
and "pranksters" who are using provocative content to increase their
followings on social media platforms like TikTok. However, these
conversations are also happening in online spaces frequented by
extremists, and the result is Zoombombing incidents which are not only
disruptive, but threatening or targeted harassment based on the
specific identity of meeting hosts or participants.

An April 3, 2020, New York Times article described Zoombombing
campaigns being promoted on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Discord,
Reddit, and 4chan; the Center on Extremism has documented similar
conversations emerging on extremist channels on Telegram. On April 2,
an article published by VICE reported that users on 8kun--the website
formerly known as 8chan --had encouraged a Zoombombing campaign against
a Jewish school in Philadelphia. One post reportedly "provided links to
the Zoom calls of teachers at the Jewish school, with instructions to
`really freak them out'" and included the extremist slang term
"boogaloo"--a term described by ADL as "a catchphrase for mass
violence."

In recent weeks, Jewish groups around the world have been harassed in
Zoombombing incidents. Jewish schools, synagogues, nonprofit
organizations, and cultural institutions have been targeted by
antisemitic language and images specifically intended to offend and
intimidate Jewish audiences.
* April 1: A weekly Talmud class led by a rabbi at a synagogue near
Detroit, Michigan, was interrupted by someone wearing paramilitary
apparel and playing "Nazi music." A second Zoombomber joined the
call a few minutes later and pointed a rifle and handgun into the
camera. Later, a third person joined and disrupted the call.
* April 1: BBC reported that an online synagogue service was
infiltrated by Zoombombers who shared antisemitic messages in the
chat with the 200+ congregants who were on the call.
* March 31: Antisemitic memes--including one alleging "the Holocaust
never happened"--were shared by Zoombombers during Yeshiva
University President Ari Berman's remarks to the student body,
according to a report by Jewish Journal.
* March 31: An online Torah study session hosted by a synagogue in
Massachusetts was Zoombombed with hateful language and epithets.
* March 31: A panel about "Leadership in Times of Crisis" hosted by
Masa Israel was Zoombombed by individuals who joined the call and
made sexual remarks.
* March 31: During a discussion hosted by a Jewish women's group, a
Zoombomber used the screen sharing feature to show their web
browser, which was open to a Google image search of "KKK." They
then shared graphic drawings and said the n-word.
* On March 30, multiple people joined a virtual game night hosted by
ChiTribe--an organization that connects young Jewish people in
Chicago--and took control of the screen, sharing graphic images and
shouting offensive and antisemitic profanities.
* March 30: In Canada, during a webinar hosted by the Canada
Antisemitism Education Foundation (CAEF), someone could reportedly
be heard saying "Sieg Heil" as racist messages and pornographic
images were shown on the screen.
* March 30: A large Jewish nonprofit organization was hosting a call
with over 100 people on when multiple people joined and loudly said
"death to the Jews" and "Heil Hitler." The n-word was also used
many times and pornographic images were shared on the screen.
* March 27: A synagogue in Maryland reported that their Shabbat
services were interrupted by antisemitic slurs, including "Heil
Hitler" and "Jewish scum." The Zoombombers, one of whom had a
swastika tattoo, also shared other antisemitic statements and one
exposed his genitals to the group.
* March 27: A synagogue in Connecticut reported being Zoombombed with
antisemitic messages during their Shabbat services.

As schools at all levels--from preschool lessons to college lectures--
have transitioned to online distance learning, virtual classrooms and
student group meetings have been a frequent target for Zoombombers.
* April 1: Multiple classes at the University of Washington have been
targeted, including a biostatistics seminar when a Zoombomber wrote
the n-word on the screen. According to a report in the student
newspaper, messages in the chat also "called students racist slurs,
specifically targeting Asian students with xenophobic remarks about
the coronavirus and threatened to `shoot up' one student's house. "
* April 1: At a high school in Miami, Florida, a teacher reported
that her Zoom video class was interrupted by multiple people
wearing masks, playing music, and showing pornographic images to
the students.
* March 30: A virtual meeting hosted by the Heman Sweatt Center for
Black Males at the University of Texas was interrupted when someone
started using racial slurs.
* March 30: During a Zoombombing incident in a virtual Massachusetts
eighth-grade classroom, the perpetrator played video footage of the
2019 mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 51
people dead. They also posted a racist epithet and antisemitic
language before the teacher ended the class, according to the
school superintendent.
* March 26: Dennis Johnson reported that his virtual dissertation
defense at California State University Long Beach was the target of
a Zoombombing attack when someone wrote the n-word and shared
graphic images on the screen.
* March 31: The Binghampton University student paper reported that an
"Intro to African American Literature" class taught by the school's
director of undergraduate Africana studies was targeted by
Zoombombers who used racist slurs against black students.

Zoombombers are also targeting local government virtual meetings, which
in many cases are required by law to be open to the public.
* March 31: The Orange County Register reported that a Laguna Beach
City Council (CA) meeting was disrupted by pornographic and profane
annotations on the screen, followed later by "a live sex scene."
Details about how to join the meeting had been posted publicly by
the city prior to the call.
* March 31: The first virtual meeting held by the City Commission in
Kalamazoo, Michigan, was interrupted by someone shouting
profanities and racial slurs.
* March 30: A virtual meeting of the Grosse Ile Township (MI) Board
of Trustees had to be ended early after multiple people made
racially and sexually charged comments. According to The Detroit
News, multiple insensitive comments focused on Chinese and Asian
people, in particular.
* March 26: At the start of a virtual Salem (MA) City Council
meeting, hate-filled posts immediately began populating the chat.
As reported in The Salem Gazette, these comments included
"anti-Semitic, racist and derogatory language aimed at members of
the 11-member council, from attacking their likeness and religions
to throwing out wholly inappropriate profanity and accusations."

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o Anti-Semitism in the US
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4. What is "Zoombombing" and Who is Behind It?

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Anti-Semitism in the US
Cyberhate
Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry

What is "Zoombombing" and Who is Behind It?

* April 6, 2020

zoom bomb zoom bomb

On March 24, 2020, a white supremacist interrupted a webinar about
antisemitism hosted by a Massachusetts Jewish student group by pulling
his shirt collar down to reveal a swastika tattoo on his chest. A day
later, a similar incident occurred in California when someone disrupted
an online class hosted by a JCC (Jewish Community Center); the
perpetrator launched into a minutes-long, profanity-laced, antisemitic
rant and removed his shirt to display a swastika tattoo on his chest.
The Center on Extremism examined screenshots of the individual behind
both incidents and believes him to be Andrew Alan Escher Auernheimer, a
known white supremacist and hacker.

As documented by ADL, Auernheimer--also known as "weev"--has a long
history of publicly expressing his antisemitic and racist views and
exploiting technology in order to gain attention. In 2016,
Auernheimer claimed credit for sending white supremacist fliers to
thousands of networked printers on college campuses around the country.
The fliers blamed Jews for destroying the country "through mass
immigration and degeneracy" and advertised the neo-Nazi website, The
Daily Stormer. A few months later, in two subsequent waves of fliering,
Auernheimer depicted Jews being killed and raped, and called for
supporting and defending acts of violence against anyone he perceived
as "anti-white." Later that same year, Auernheimer also participated in
a harassment campaign against Jewish journalists on Twitter.

Auernheimer has referred to himself as a "white nationalist
hacktivist," and previously was sentenced to 41 months in federal
prison, where he served slightly more than a year on federal charges
related to computer hacking. That conviction and sentence were
overturned in 2014 for improper venue issues. In a piece on The Daily
Dot, he describes himself as "a long-time critic of Judaism, black
culture, immigration to Western nations, and the media's constant
stream of anti-white propaganda." Auernheimer also expressed these
views in a 2014 post on The Daily Stormer, in which he ranted against
"the Jews" for building "an empire of wickedness the likes the world
has never seen." In 2009, he created several videos containing
antisemitic ramblings and comments, which alerted the FBI to
Auernheimer's location; the FBI warned him not to go near Jewish
congregations or agencies.

As the coronavirus pandemic has led to more people spending time at
home and conducting school and business online, an increasing focus has
been placed on certain technologies and their ability to facilitate
hate and harassment. Reports of "Zoombombing," a reference to the
popular video conferencing platform Zoom in which virtual meetings are
disrupted by graphic or threatening messages, have quickly garnered
attention across the country. Inside Higher Ed reported incidents
targeting virtual classrooms at Arizona State University and the
University of Southern California, as well as a children's storytelling
session in New Jersey. According to NBC News, during a virtual Torah
lesson on March 22, multiple people interrupted the session by sharing
antisemitic images and language. In Thousand Oaks, California, an
online school board meeting was cut short after someone shared
pornographic images, as well as a Nazi flag and swastika. These reports
have become so widespread that the FBI issued a warning about the
hijacking of video conferences and online classrooms on March 30.

Across various social media platforms, extremists have already seized
on the coronavirus pandemic as a vehicle to spread their hate and
conspiracies. While some Zoombombing incidents can be attributed to
internet trolls without particularly malicious intentions, there is
concern that extremists are also increasingly exploiting this newfound
reliance on video conferencing technology to target certain groups or
advance their hateful messages.

There is increasing evidence that Zoombombing attacks are being
coordinated or encouraged on a range of mainstream and fringe online
platforms. Various reports, including articles from Insider and PCMag,
indicate that some incidents are being perpetrated by "bored" teenagers
and "pranksters" who are using provocative content to increase their
followings on social media platforms like TikTok. However, these
conversations are also happening in online spaces frequented by
extremists, and the result is Zoombombing incidents which are not only
disruptive, but threatening or targeted harassment based on the
specific identity of meeting hosts or participants.

An April 3, 2020, New York Times article described Zoombombing
campaigns being promoted on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Discord,
Reddit, and 4chan; the Center on Extremism has documented similar
conversations emerging on extremist channels on Telegram. On April 2,
an article published by VICE reported that users on 8kun--the website
formerly known as 8chan --had encouraged a Zoombombing campaign against
a Jewish school in Philadelphia. One post reportedly "provided links to
the Zoom calls of teachers at the Jewish school, with instructions to
`really freak them out'" and included the extremist slang term
"boogaloo"--a term described by ADL as "a catchphrase for mass
violence."

In recent weeks, Jewish groups around the world have been harassed in
Zoombombing incidents. Jewish schools, synagogues, nonprofit
organizations, and cultural institutions have been targeted by
antisemitic language and images specifically intended to offend and
intimidate Jewish audiences.
* April 1: A weekly Talmud class led by a rabbi at a synagogue near
Detroit, Michigan, was interrupted by someone wearing paramilitary
apparel and playing "Nazi music." A second Zoombomber joined the
call a few minutes later and pointed a rifle and handgun into the
camera. Later, a third person joined and disrupted the call.
* April 1: BBC reported that an online synagogue service was
infiltrated by Zoombombers who shared antisemitic messages in the
chat with the 200+ congregants who were on the call.
* March 31: Antisemitic memes--including one alleging "the Holocaust
never happened"--were shared by Zoombombers during Yeshiva
University President Ari Berman's remarks to the student body,
according to a report by Jewish Journal.
* March 31: An online Torah study session hosted by a synagogue in
Massachusetts was Zoombombed with hateful language and epithets.
* March 31: A panel about "Leadership in Times of Crisis" hosted by
Masa Israel was Zoombombed by individuals who joined the call and
made sexual remarks.
* March 31: During a discussion hosted by a Jewish women's group, a
Zoombomber used the screen sharing feature to show their web
browser, which was open to a Google image search of "KKK." They
then shared graphic drawings and said the n-word.
* On March 30, multiple people joined a virtual game night hosted by
ChiTribe--an organization that connects young Jewish people in
Chicago--and took control of the screen, sharing graphic images and
shouting offensive and antisemitic profanities.
* March 30: In Canada, during a webinar hosted by the Canada
Antisemitism Education Foundation (CAEF), someone could reportedly
be heard saying "Sieg Heil" as racist messages and pornographic
images were shown on the screen.
* March 30: A large Jewish nonprofit organization was hosting a call
with over 100 people on when multiple people joined and loudly said
"death to the Jews" and "Heil Hitler." The n-word was also used
many times and pornographic images were shared on the screen.
* March 27: A synagogue in Maryland reported that their Shabbat
services were interrupted by antisemitic slurs, including "Heil
Hitler" and "Jewish scum." The Zoombombers, one of whom had a
swastika tattoo, also shared other antisemitic statements and one
exposed his genitals to the group.
* March 27: A synagogue in Connecticut reported being Zoombombed with
antisemitic messages during their Shabbat services.

As schools at all levels--from preschool lessons to college lectures--
have transitioned to online distance learning, virtual classrooms and
student group meetings have been a frequent target for Zoombombers.
* April 1: Multiple classes at the University of Washington have been
targeted, including a biostatistics seminar when a Zoombomber wrote
the n-word on the screen. According to a report in the student
newspaper, messages in the chat also "called students racist slurs,
specifically targeting Asian students with xenophobic remarks about
the coronavirus and threatened to `shoot up' one student's house. "
* April 1: At a high school in Miami, Florida, a teacher reported
that her Zoom video class was interrupted by multiple people
wearing masks, playing music, and showing pornographic images to
the students.
* March 30: A virtual meeting hosted by the Heman Sweatt Center for
Black Males at the University of Texas was interrupted when someone
started using racial slurs.
* March 30: During a Zoombombing incident in a virtual Massachusetts
eighth-grade classroom, the perpetrator played video footage of the
2019 mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 51
people dead. They also posted a racist epithet and antisemitic
language before the teacher ended the class, according to the
school superintendent.
* March 26: Dennis Johnson reported that his virtual dissertation
defense at California State University Long Beach was the target of
a Zoombombing attack when someone wrote the n-word and shared
graphic images on the screen.
* March 31: The Binghampton University student paper reported that an
"Intro to African American Literature" class taught by the school's
director of undergraduate Africana studies was targeted by
Zoombombers who used racist slurs against black students.

Zoombombers are also targeting local government virtual meetings, which
in many cases are required by law to be open to the public.
* March 31: The Orange County Register reported that a Laguna Beach
City Council (CA) meeting was disrupted by pornographic and profane
annotations on the screen, followed later by "a live sex scene."
Details about how to join the meeting had been posted publicly by
the city prior to the call.
* March 31: The first virtual meeting held by the City Commission in
Kalamazoo, Michigan, was interrupted by someone shouting
profanities and racial slurs.
* March 30: A virtual meeting of the Grosse Ile Township (MI) Board
of Trustees had to be ended early after multiple people made
racially and sexually charged comments. According to The Detroit
News, multiple insensitive comments focused on Chinese and Asian
people, in particular.
* March 26: At the start of a virtual Salem (MA) City Council
meeting, hate-filled posts immediately began populating the chat.
As reported in The Salem Gazette, these comments included
"anti-Semitic, racist and derogatory language aimed at members of
the 11-member council, from attacking their likeness and religions
to throwing out wholly inappropriate profanity and accusations."

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Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry
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