What is the common point between Boris Johnson, the lovers of aperitifs at a distance and 90 000 schools in the world? All of them use the video conferencing application Zoom, work, or socialize during the outbreak of coronavirus.
But the california company finds itself faced with unanticipated responsibility, after a black week marked by scandals of security.
Zoom, publicly traded for less than a year, was created in Silicon Valley in 2011 by Eric Yuan, an engineer.
This immigrant is said to passionate about the communication technologies since the 1990s, when, while a student at Shandong (China), he dreamed to see his girlfriend without traveling 10 hours by train.
The interface was mainly used for business meetings… Prior to that half of humanity does not find itself gradually-call at home.
Today Zoom is used as class room, yoga studio, table, poker and even church. Couples are married, and families attend the funeral of a loved one.
“It is very easy to use, just click on a link. Tuesday, I have found my students after the holidays, we did a bit of math and reading, ” says Justin Minkel, a teacher from the us who teaches via Zoom.
“When there’s too much noise in them, I can turn off all their mics! It would be good practice at school, when they are talking… “, is having fun this inhabitant of Springdale, Arkansas.
His wife goes to the meetings on Zoom, and two children were also used for school and appointments with friends.
According to Mr Yuan, the platform has surpassed it in march of the 200 million participants in meetings day-to-day, compared with 10 million last December.
But why Zoom, and not Google Hangouts, Teams (Microsoft), Skype, FaceTime, Webex, Jitsi…? Trade volumes have exploded on all the courier video, but none is distinguished as a Zoom.
The platform allows to call up to 100 people simultaneously, for 40 minutes, free of charge. A paid subscription gives access to more features.
Its design is basic but you choose a background to hide his messy bedroom (coconut, library…) or share his screen with the other participants.
But most of all, in march, Zoom has removed the limit of 40 minutes for the teachers in twenty countries.
“People were so afraid of being disconnected. And where Zoom comes in saying “here is the solution, it is free of charge, you will not be isolated!” Everyone rushed out, ” notes Stephanie DeMichele, coach in educational technology.
The adoption has snowballed.
Stephanie DeMichele prefer yet Google tools, especially for the schools with all the result of education, because ” it’s easier to use what you already have “.
“Google provides, including e-mails attached to the establishment for all the children and teachers. This creates a bubble of nice where you feel safe “, she explains.
By contrast, the phenomenon of “ZoomBombing” was appalled: these last days, on Zoom, the defenses of thesis, classes or religious ceremonies have been disturbed by pornographic images or threatening language.
The american media Vice has also found that the application provided personal data to third parties, such as Facebook.
Companies and organizations, such as the Red Cross, recommend now their employees not to use it.
The prosecutors at least three american states (Connecticut, New York and Florida) are investigating the company’s practices in terms of privacy and security.
“We have not been up to expectations” on these two topics, said Eric Yuan on Wednesday, in an open letter, in which he announced measures of correction.
“We now have a user base much wider (business customers). We discover the case of use of unexpected (…) and we discover the underlying issues “, he detailed.
“They have a job to restore confidence. But I was impressed, this is more than an apology hollow, ” said Gennie Gebhart, a senior researcher of the NGO Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The american company is focused on the current game, but it should begin to consider the post-pandemic, writes Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. “Zoom is a bit mono-task. Its competitors perform more functions and can copy it easily “.
The software happen in the story such as the shooting star of the containment? “They are not going to disappear “, says the expert. “They’re just going to shine less strong “.