Can Zoom Hosts Really See Your Private Messages?

This article is part of Privacy in the Pandemic, a Future Tense series .
One of the biggest winners of the pandemic has been Zoom, which is now enmeshed in workplaces and schools. But the transition to online classrooms and workspaces wasn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate without its hiccups, particularly rampant Zoom bombing and criticism over the platform ’ s miss of throughout encoding .
With college students bracing for another semester of on-line learn, another reverence has bubbled up : that professors can read any direct message sent on the chopine, even between two students. The story goes that after recording a class, professors ( or anyone who hosts a meeting ) receive a transcript that includes all messages sent. In the spring, a pinch about one student ’ s repugnance narrative went viral .




intelligibly, the prospect of professors perusing students ’ private messages left people freaked .

But there ’ s good news : This is just a rumor based on a mistake. A soar server can not read your private messages sent to other meeting participants. Zoom ’ s web site states, “ Private messages between participants are not viewable by the master of ceremonies. ”
I spoke to Zoom immediately to get some clearing. “ If a person with recording privileges chooses to record a Zoom meet to the cloud, in-meeting chats sent publicly ( to everyone in the meeting ) are saved, ” a Zoom spokesperson told me. “ If a person with recording privileges chooses to record a Zoom meet locally ” —that is, to a computer— “ then chats sent publicly, adenine well as any individual chat exchanges that the person recording participated in during the session, are saved. As has constantly been the shell, a person who opts to record a suffer does not receive chat transcripts from secret conversations that they did not participate in. ” It ’ s credibly inactive not a great idea to say something snarky about your professor ( or boss ! ) to a supporter via Zoom ’ s chat function, but that ’ s barely because it ’ s comfortable to by chance send a message to the wrong person. ( For another horror narrative, see this Dear Prudence letter. In it, the letter writer was forwarded a Zoom transcript in which two colleagues said frightful things about them. In that case, it seems probably that one of the mean colleagues was the server. )


If you see tweets and Facebook posts that say differently, chalk it up to misinformation run violent. One widely circulated Facebook post read, “ Just a by the by : ‘ individual messages ’ send to individual people during a Zoom meet indicate up in the end-of-meeting transcript along with all other public messages. Tell your friends, save a life. ”
According to PolitiFact, a nonprofit fact-checking web site, Facebook flagged the mail in question as delusive news.

The lesson here ? Please, do not believe everything you see on Zoom Memes for Self Quaranteens .
future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society .
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