Instructor Response Plans: Unwanted Zoom Disruptions (Zoombombing)

You may have heard about instances of unwanted, upsetting online classroom disruptions (Zoombombings). Below are practical tips for preventing unwanted access, and two recommended response plans in the event your class is disrupted. 

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Step-by-step instructions for two scenarios are provided below. To be prepared, we recommend that you review and practice both response plans.

Scenario One: Offensive Disruption; Requires Urgent Response

This scenario might include disruptive activities such as hate speech, pornography, or profanity. 

Example Scenario: Someone enters your meeting either by random chance or because a student in your class has shared the link. You become aware of this when an inappropriate image is shared with the class and you hear someone shouting profanities. 

  1. Suspend Participant Activities: Go to the Zoom toolbar and click the Security tab and click the red “Suspend Participant Activities” at the bottom of that menu.
    •  When you Suspend Participant Activities, all video, audio, in-meeting chat, annotation, screen sharing, and recording during that time will stop, and Breakout Rooms will end.
  2. Communicate to participants: Unmute your microphone and communicate to participants.
    • Example language: "Due to this disruption, our session will pause until this is resolved. Please stand by for further instructions."
  3. Attempt to locate the disruptor and remove the participant from your meeting. Go to the Zoom toolbar and click the Security tab and click Remove Participant.
    • The Participants panel appears, with Remove in red text next to all names.
    • Scroll through the list of meeting participants and click Remove next to the disruptor(s).
    • If you are unable to determine the disruptor, proceed to Step 4.
  4. Create a new Zoom meeting and share the link with students.
    • If you use the Zoom integration in Canvas, from the Canvas navigation menu, select Zoom and schedule a new meeting. We recommend posting the new link in the Canvas Announcement area.
    • If you use Zoom outside of Canvas, go to to create a new meeting. To securely share the new meeting link, do not add it to your Google Calendar; instead, copy the meeting information and email it to your participants.
  5. Report the details of the disruptive incident to UMN Technology Help. Based on the details you provide, the service desk agent will escalate to the appropriate responder. 
  6. If the disruption is upsetting, provide your students with information about UMN Mental Health support services.

Scenario Two: Inappropriate Disruption; Manageable within the Class

This scenario might include activities such as sharing inappropriate (but inoffensive) images, yelling, singing, or generally disrupting normal class activities.

Example Scenario: Someone in the Zoom meeting is intentionally disrupting the class by sharing a music video not related to the course content.  

Step One: Make it stop. 
  1. Identify the disruptive activities (audio, screen sharing, or chat). 
  2. Take action to disable the relevant function in Zoom.

To stop inappropriate audio, shut down the ability for all participants to use mics.

  • Go to the Participants panel and select Mute All.

To stop inappropriate images or video from being shared, shut down the ability for all participants to share their screens.

  • Go to the Security menu and uncheck Share Screen.

To stop inappropriate activity in the chat by shutting down the ability for all participants to write in chat.

  • Go to the Security menu and uncheck Chat.
Step Two: Lock your Meeting & Remove the Disruptor(s).
  1. Lock your meeting to prevent participants who you remove from re-entering.
    1. Go to the Security panel and check Lock Meeting.
  2. Remove the disruptive person(s) from your meeting.
    1. Go to the Security panel and select Remove Participant...
      • The Participants panel appears, with Remove in red text next to all names.
    2. Scroll through the list of meeting participants and click Remove next to the disruptor(s).
  3. If you choose to unlock your meeting, enable the Waiting Room so you can admit or reject participants.
    1. Go to the Security panel and check Enable Waiting Room.
  4. Report the Incident to Technology Help as soon as possible. The service desk agent will escalate to the appropriate responder based on the details you provide.

Assign Roles and Responsibilities and Rehearse Response Plans

If a disruption occurs, you’ll want to act quickly and in coordination with at least one designated support person. This support role may be fulfilled by TA’s, co-instructors, colleagues, or students.

Note: You will need to assign co-host status to the people in the support role so that they can complete tasks including:

  • Monitoring the chat for inappropriate comments
  • Admitting participants from the Zoom waiting room
  • Removing disruptive participants

Since disruptions can be flustering, we recommend practicing both response plans.

Communicate Expectations with your Students

As part of a conversation about expectations for participation in online learning, share your response plan with students, making sure to set expectations for the two scenarios.

  • In the event of an offensive disruption:
    • The Zoom meeting will end.
    • Students are expected to rejoin the class, however, it may take up to 15 minutes to report the incident, set up a new meeting, and share the link.
    • Notify students how you will share the new Zoom link (i.e., in Canvas or via email).
  • In the event of an inoffensive disruption
    • Set expectations that you may need to temporarily disable interactive features (audio, screen sharing, chat).
    • Set expectations that disruptions will not be tolerated and bad actors will be removed from the Zoom meeting.
    • Empower your students to take an active role in making your class a safe learning space.