Covid-19 Info

NA Meetings in Transition

This section covers our current (May 13, 2020) best thinking that has been gathered together on transitioning from virtual-only meetings to in-person meetings or perhaps hybrid meetings, Remember that we are only addicts in recovery and cannot supersede guidance you get from government authorities or medical practitioners. We are not medical experts and cannot give medical advice. We must also adhere to the rules of the venues we use.

First, a poster of info: CanWeReOpen       For a checklist. see Checklist for Reopening Meetings 

For a video on setting up hybrid meetings, please see Hybrid Meetings

Remember that we have merely put together out best thinking for now. They can and probably will get updated as we get new and better information

NA Virtual Meetings

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many NA meetings are meeting online. Along with the phenomenon of NA meetings on Zoom, another phenomenon has reared its ugly head: troll bombing or Zoom bombing. This is when several people invade a Zoom meeting and do terrible things. They screen share and show really vile pornography, utter racial epithets, send disturbing chats to individuals. As quick as they are removed, they come right back.

We are not helpless.

There are a number of things we can do besides set a password, although that is an option. There are settings in your Zoom account that you can set to prevent this. And a number of things in the Zoom app you can do to remove the trolls and keep them out, if they appear. It is best to have co-hosts and divide up the jobs so you each have your assigned responsibility if it happens.

Zoom Passwords or Waiting Room Mandatory as of 9/27/20

Along with the phenomenon of NA meetings on Zoom, another has reared its ugly head: Zoom Bombing or Trolling. This is when several people invade a Zoom meeting and do terrible things. They screen share and show really vile pornography, utter racial epithets, send disturbing chats to individuals. As quick as they are removed, they come right back. In response, Zoom instituted a new rule to take effect April 5: every Zoom meeting MUST be password-protected. This was imposed by Zoom, not by NA, and could not be changed by the account holder. This was a problem for NA meetings, whose primary purpose is to reach out to the newcomer. For some reason, Zoom relaxed the rule on April 6.  Zoom made passwords toggled On by default but allowed the account owner to log into Zoom.us and go to Settings and toggle them off. If you choose to have a password, you can set it to what you want. Many groups choose “recovery” or “0000” or “12345”. It is best to use a numeric password because that works for computers, tablets, and all phones (people not on a smart phone cannot enter alphabetic characters as the password, but only numeric). In early July, Zoom sent an email notice that passcodes (their new word for password) or a Waiting Room are mandatory as of September 27, 2020. For meetings that do not have a passcode or a Waiting Room,  Zoom will enable a Waiting Room for them. You can customize the Waiting Room experience with an approved list of domains that can bypass the Waiting Room and directly join the meeting.

There are now five options in listing a meeting online:

  1. Use a Zoom link with the encrypted password at the end of the link
  2. Put the Zoom ID and plain text password in the meeting information
  3. Have an email address that people can email requesting the password
  4. Do not make the password public – give it out to only selected people
  5. Do not have a password but do have a Waiting Room

Option 1. Zoom will generate the encrypted password for you For example, https://us04web.zoom.us/j/769783954?pwd=ZTlRTW4ybTVab1R2WVdDMzRwS2FDUT08 (this is not a real Zoom link, it is just an example). The gobbledygook after “?pwd=” is the encrypted password. All a person has to do is click the link and it automatically logs them in. Every meeting in New England Region is in our Basic Meeting List Toolbox (BMLT) database. One of the fields is for the virtual link. We can put the link and its encrypted password in that field and then a user can just click on it.

Option 2. Zoom ID with unencrypted password, for example “Zoom ID: 123-123-123 Password=654321”. We could put this in the Virtual Meeting Additional Information field and it will appear in the meeting entry on the website. A person can go https://zoom.us, select Join a Meeting. put in the Zoom ID and, when prompted, enter the password.

Option 3. An email address to request the password. A group could open a free email account and use it to receive requests for the password. For example, the Just For Today group in Anytown could create a free Gmail account, JustForTodayAnytown@gmail.com. The web servant could put “For password, please email JustForTodayAnytown@gmail.com” in the Virtual Meeting Additional Information field. A disadvantage of this is that someone would have to monitor the email all the time. Another disadvantage is that a troll could request the password, which would defeat the purpose.

Option 4. Keep the password private. This way, you could send it to only people known to you but then how would newcomers get in? Or even other NA members who just want to attend a meeting?

Option 5. Turn off the password requirement. This has the advantage that new comers and experienced members alike can get into the meeting without having to know anything except the meeting ID. As of September 27, if you have no passcode you will need to have a Waiting Room, which is a good idea anyway.

Note that with Options 1, 2, 3,  and 5, trolls and Zoom bombers could still get into the meeting. Of course, that was the situation we had before passwords were imposed on us by Zoom. The ultimate defense is to have your settings set to defend you and to have several co-hosts to deal with intruders. The New England Region website allows each Group to choose which option seems right to them. Simply let us know your choice by filling in the Meeting Update Form and we will implement it.

Zoom Settings To Defend Against Trolls

Here are instant protective measures that will deter most troll behavior. Log into the www.zoom.us, click on your profile icon to apply these settings:
• Zoom.us > Settings > Mute participants upon entry > On
• Zoom.us > Settings > File Transfer > Off
• Zoom.us > Settings > Allow host to put attendee on hold > On
• Zoom.us > Settings > Sharing screen > On
• Zoom.us > Settings > Sharing screen > Select: Host Only
• Zoom.us > Settings > Annotations > Off
• Zoom.us > Settings > Whiteboards > Off
• Zoom.us > Settings > Allow Participants to rejoin > Off
• Zoom.us > Settings > Cohosts > On (To deal with trolls real time and to learn to host)

During a Zoombombing, Keep Calm and Click On:
• App > Chat > Click ⋯ > Participants can chat with > Host only
• App > Participants > Mute All > Uncheck ? Allow …unmute
• App > Participants > Find Troll > (hover/click) More > Remove
Stay kind & compassionate! Getting upset will make it harder to deal with the situation, and will upset your attendees upset as well. We addicts have seen and lived through *much* worse!

Lock the Meeting: when you’re in the meeting. To do so, click Participants at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the participants pop-up box, you will see a button that says Lock Meeting. When you lock the meeting, no new participants can join, even if they have the meeting ID and password.

Be sure to lock down your meeting setting, this is a best practice even when people aren’t in fear of strangers disrupting their meeting. Here is what your Zoom meeting can do to protect yourself from outside or inside disruptions.
1. Have multiple co-hosts. Assign at least one to monitor videos, one to remove last names, and one to monitor the chat.
2. Mute all, and do not allow participants to unmute themselves. Have participants raise their hands and have the host unmute them when it’s their time to share.
3. If someone is being disruptive or inappropriate, you can shut of their video or kick them out of the meeting.
4. If the chat is being misused you can shut off private messaging, or shut off chat all together.

With multiple co-hosts, the meeting can continue with little to no disruption

Also see this latest (Saturday April 11) blog post from Zoom: Blog Post