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Science & Technology

Video Meeting Platform Zoom Addresses Criticisms As It Sees Explosive Growth In Users

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan attends the opening bell at Nasdaq as his company holds its IPO in New York. The company's seen a massive growth in users amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

It was never meant to get this big, this fast. Zoom — the video-conferencing service which has become the go-to way for millions of self-distancing users to get in touch with friends, family, teachers, co-workers and more — has gone public with exactly how large it has grown since the coronavirus pandemic, and what it plans to do about its growing pains.

Zoom's founder and CEO Eric S. Yuan posted message to users of the service in a blog Wednesday explaining that in December Zoom had approximately 10 million daily users. By March that number grew to 200 million. The platform, Yuan writes, was built for large businesses and institutions with their own IT departments.

"However, we did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home," he wrote. "We now have a much broader set of users who are utilizing our product in a myriad of unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived. "

Some of those "challenges" include: unwanted guests crashing and harassing strangers video chats (a trolling technique known as Zoombombing); allowing Facebook to collect unnecessary data; and the company itself incorrectly suggesting to users that the service was end-to-end encrypted (it's not). Yuan lists some of the steps the company's already taken to address these issues, but also announced a commitment to freeze any work not directed towards safety and privacy for the next 90 days. This includes conducting a review with third-party experts, running a series of security penetration tests and — in the name of transparency — hosting a weekly webinar to provide updates to users.

"I am committed to being open and honest with you about areas where we are strengthening our platform and areas where users can take steps of their own to best use and protect themselves on the platform," writes Yuan.

Whether this means Zoom will be up to the task of continuing to host work meetings, happy hours, seders, funerals, and more remains to be seen.

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