How Zoom became a household name

published on July 20, 2020

– Until recently, you might not have even heard of Zoom The video conferencing app that millions of people are using to stay in touch with their friends and family It's grown immensely, basically overnight, because of the pandemic and people are hosting all sorts of things on Zoom Some people are even getting married on Zoom

It's obviously a super surreal time right now and people are trying to find the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch with their friends and family Zoom is super easy and cheap to use, but that ease of use might be coming at a cost

Researchers and privacy advocates are finding security and privacy issues with Zoom on what feels like a daily basis now Zoom could become a victim of its own success as it faces a privacy and security backlash Now, to understand why Zoom became so popular

So quickly you have to understand how the app works Every Zoom call comes with a nine to 11 digit randomly generated code and participants have to enter that code in order to access a meeting That's super easy compared to its competitors Skype for example requires a long case sensitive,

Alpha numeric password and FaceTime requires having an Apple ID Zoom is definitely easier By default though, you can jump into a Zoom meeting with just that little ID number or even a link and start broadcasting your webcam

Or the content of your screen to anybody on the call Now, this makes Zoom sound ideal and super easy to use, but it's also lead to a phenomenon called Zoom bombing This is where pranksters join Zoom meetings from links that are posted publicly

And stream porn or other offensive videos It's shocking and terrible, and especially bad when it affects school aged children A lot of the privacy and security concerns started with Zoom bombing, but then, as researchers dug deeper into the app,

They found more For one, they discovered Zoom might have shared information with Facebook That lead to two lawsuits against Zoom and the attention of the office of New York's Attorney General which sent a letter

To the company to better understand its security practices The FBI has also warned about Zoom's default settings and some companies are even now starting to ban Zoom as a result (mellow music) These are just a couple of Zoom's privacy

And security issues So, why are people still using this app? Well, it comes down to what I was talking about earlier Zoom just works You can have an unlimited number of meetings and up to 100 people to chat for free at a time

This means, an entire classroom can jump in and do virtual meetings, or groups of friends can get together without paying anything Zoom also does a great job with gallery view on all those conference calls Its competitors sometimes make people look

Like disjointed, floating heads At a time when everyone is stressing about the pandemic, people are going to flock to whatever's free and easiest to use And right now, that's Zoom Skype, the video calling service we probably all remember

From 10 years ago also has a similar way to hold video meetings, but for a long time, it was buried away and most people didn't know that feature existed Microsoft, since acquiring Skype, has instead focused on building its team's software

After years of letting Skype's reliability and its user interface become kind of questionable Houseparty has grown in popularity too for many of the same reasons as Zoom Cisco Webex, StarLeaf, Whereby and Google Hangouts are just some solid alternatives to Zoom

And some rival services are even lowering their free limits to get more people using their apps right now All these video apps are good and different in a variety of ways It's worth exploring and seeing what's out there and what you like the most

Just know that Zoom isn't your only option All right, so what is Zoom doing about all of these privacy and security concerns? The company is not rolling out any new features for 90 days to focus on reviewing the problems that researchers and journalists have raised for one

It's also now claiming that the app was never designed to be used by general consumers or for the influx of people who are using the app in strange and wonderful ways And while that might be true, the app is easy to use for everybody

Regardless of whether they're in an office or not Zoom now faces tough decisions around its default user settings and user's privacy concerns and ultimately, how much it's willing to give up its ease of use Zoom might just have to tighten up aspects

Of its app that made it so appealing to consumers and businesses in the first place Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to decide whether we're happy to give up some privacy for software that's free That's a familiar choice that millions of people face

With services like Facebook, or Google that are also popular and best in class The harsh reality is that you either pay for an app with cash or with your personal data and that decision usually comes down to trust Zoom needs to prove to its millions of new users

That it can be trusted during a time when they need it the most Hey, thanks for watching As always, stay tuned to The Verge We are pumpin' out videos to keep you guys entertained Please stay safe and healthy

And call your mom, call your friends, talk over video chat It's gonna keep us all connected

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