May 2020-Opinion

OPINION

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  • Zoom may not be as safe as you think
  • UFC president Dana White deserves credit for his efforts to bring sports back to America

 

ZOOM MAY NOT BE AS SAFE AS YOU THINK

By: Nathan Gee

Students would have to enter a specific meeting ID and password in order to access the video call.

Photo By: Nathan Gee

COVID-19 has brought many changes throughout 2020, canceling all sporting events and practices, closing down businesses as well as public spaces, and even altering the classroom environment. As students and faculty of Abraham Lincoln High School are prohibited from meeting at school, many classes have utilized Zoom and switched to online learning environments.

 

For those who don't know, Zoom is a video-conferencing platform that allows users to hold classrooms, conferences, and meetings. Zoom, in particular, has taken off because it is easy to use, easy to set up, and allows up to 100 people in a meeting. It was also made free for K -12 schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

However, Zoom also has downsides that many people might not recognize. If you have not experienced it earlier this year, you may have heard of it. "Zoom bombing" has been quite prevalent when classes started to go online, and, due to Zoom's ease of use, trouble-makers can go into the Zoom meetings to spout racial slurs, show NSFW (Not Safe for Work) material, and disrupt online sessions. On May 12, online trolls hijacked the graduation ceremony at Oklahoma City University, replacing the Zoom video feed with racist language and symbols. Teachers and the SFUSD school district have taken precautions by requiring meeting passwords as well as authorization to let a student in to prevent Zoom bombings from happening.

 

Zoom has also been scrutinized for its flawed security and privacy policies, which, up until recently, seemed to give Zoom the right to do whatever it wanted with users' data, such as the device users use for Zoom as well as their IP address. Zoom has also been a target for hackers, with hackers embedding malware into Zoom installer files, allowing  spyware to turn on the webcam, take screenshots, log keystrokes, as well as collect diagnostic data about the system it's running on. It also installs a fully working version of the Zoom desktop client, which users may unknowingly use, thinking its the legitimate program. 

 

I would advise against downloading Zoom and recommend using the browser version instead. Accessing Zoom in a browser doesn't have as many permissions as an installed application, limiting the amount of harm it can potentially cause. Zoom still has multiple unresolved issues, including the quality of its encryption algorithm, which is used to encode voice and video as well as how and if they share personal details with third parties such as advertising companies and personalized software.

 

In early April, Zoom faced investor lawsuits over the lack of transparency over security and privacy policies. Backlash ensued, and on April 6, New York City public schools moved to ban Zoom meetings, and other school districts did the same, although Singapore now seems to be reversing its ban on Zoom for distance learning. 

 

Does all this mean that Zoom is unsafe to use? No. Unless you're discussing classified information, or disclosing personal health information to a patient, Zoom should be a safe program to use. An alternative to Zoom for which I believe is better would be Google Meet, as it is simple and more accessible as students already have SFUSD Google accounts. You can hold video calls with up to 250 participants, conduct presentations and record meetings, and save them to Google Drive. Google Meet is integrated with Gmail so that you can start a video call right from the left column. 

 

UFC PRESIDENT DANA WHITE DESERVES CREDIT FOR HIS EFFORTS TO BRING SPORTS BACK TO AMERICA

By: Gordon Liang

Dana White persevered to bring sports back to America

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

Dana White is an American hero. In a country where nearly everything, including sports, has been put to a halt, White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has worked vigorously to bring sports to televisions all over the world and to keep people inside their homes.

 

UFC 249 was originally scheduled for April 18, 2020. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fans had speculations as to where it could possibly be held. White chose not to disclose the location until the night of the fight to prevent opponents from rallying against the event. However, Disney, who is partnered with the UFC, was contacted by California Governor Gavin Newsom to intervene with the event. 

 

When Disney asked White to stop the event, he begrudgingly obeyed and disclosed to the public that he had planned the bout to take place at the Tachi Palace Hotel, an Indian Casino in California. He informed the public that he’d also secured a private island to hold international fights. That’s the dedication that all Americans should look up to when referring to the “American Dream.”

 

White was afraid that the opponents would attempt to derail his event. Before the event got postponed, White had received backlash from fellow MMA fans for worrying about an event more than the pandemic we’re facing, calling him a “mercenary.” On the contrary, the UFC would be losing money from hosting these events since White procured a private island and had people working on building the infrastructure– the UFC will be paying fighters and most of these fights will be held on ESPN with no live audience in the arena. These events will yield little profit as many will likely stream the pay-per-view and will likely already have a five dollar subscription to ESPN+ or have cable in their houses. White’s efforts to put on an event helped accommodate Americans who were stuck at home.

 

Opponents also worried that the safety measures that the UFC put in place were going to be insufficient. White proved them wrong when Jacare Souza, a fighter on the card, tested positive for Covid-19. While many saw this as a mess because the news was reported the night before the event, White disputed, “The system worked. What you don't to do is: two days after the fight say, ‘Oh sh*t, Jacare tested positive.’” If anything, the positive test was a good sign since none of the other fighters have since tested positive so Souza didn’t spread the virus to anyone other than his coaches.

 

UFC 249 was an event that’ll be mentioned in future history books. During the event, athletes from every other sport were tuned in and tweeting about it; the UFC broadcasted some of said tweets. White’s diligence to entertain Americans cannot go unnoticed. 

 

White has even made efforts to keep everyone safe at the event. Anyone who works for the UFC during the event must submit a negative Covid-19 test result. 

 

Saturday, May 9, 2020 was a time when Americans regained hope that their world was coming back to normal and united together for sports as they had before the pandemic. White and other members of the UFC wrote a 30-page plan for how they were able to safely execute events during this pandemic and other sports leagues have since reached out.