At the turn of spring 2020, when COVID-19 forced us all indoors, there was one outlet we all seemed to turn to – Zoom. Whether it was for a class, to reconnect with friends, or to host work-from-home meetings, Zoom was our go-to solution.
However, by summer 2020, our stellar sentiments about the app changed. During a time when Black Lives Matter advocates were protesting for peace from law enforcement and using Zoom to educate others and plan rallies, news came out that Zoom’s calls were monitored and could be listened to by the same law enforcement many were protesting. With that news, many BLM advocates along with other individuals fearing the scrutiny of their conversations fled the platform. I was one such user.
As a Black Lives Matter advocate and someone who values my privacy, I felt that I could no longer in good conscience use Zoom. I was disappointed because it’s an excellent tool for small businesses to connect with clients and host webinars. While we use BlueJeans, a more sophisticated conferencing app at work; I used Zoom at home. However, I had to research other alternatives like WhatsApp, because of what seemed like Zoom’s tone-deaf lack of concern for users’ privacy and the harsh reality some were facing.
Fast forward to fall 2020, and Zoom has made some impressive changes! One change in particular puts an end to any fears about law enforcement infringing on users’ privacy.
Here are a few of my favorite new features –
Zoom now offers end-to-end encryption, which means no one can externally access your Zoom call—including Zoom itself or law enforcement. This is a huge improvement from earlier this year when users feared their safety as they protested for equal rights and used the tool to educate others and spread news. But now users’ privacy is protected and users can toggle the end-to-end encryption on or off depending on the sensitivity of a call. On many accounts, the feature is already enabled automatically.
In a recent update, Zoom added jazzy augmented reality filters, similar to what you might find on Instagram or Snapchat. The new filters allow you to add an effect to your face or background while in your meeting. This can make your meetings more personalized and engaging while setting a unique tone for your virtual event. There is even a filter that lets you brighten your background so that low lighting is no longer an issue. Alternatively, users can opt to make their background black and white or sepia-toned. There are also studio effects that allow you to virtually select an eyebrow style, lip color, or add a mustache to your face!
Zoom Marketplace for Virtual Events
Zoom now has a marketplace called On Zoom. This new marketplace is similar to Eventbrite in that it allows people to create and promote their Zoom events to the general public. Events can be free, paid, or set up as fundraisers. Attendees can easily find events on the home page or search by category, host, or event name. Attendees can also donate to hosts or gift tickets to friends and family.
These different features make Zoom feel like a completely new product. If 2020 was the year of pivoting to innovative digital spaces and conscientiously listening to your customers, then Zoom is one of the few companies that Aced it!
Let us know in the comments if you currently use Zoom or will be giving the new features a try.
This article references Zoom’s latest updates, specifically version 5.2 and higher.
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