Expression, Safety and Process at Zoom
September 2, 2021
Today’s technologies blend our physical and virtual worlds, giving us new ways to work, communicate, and express ourselves. At Zoom, we’re committed to enabling all of these activities on our platform, while also working to keep our users and their communities safe. Here are some of the ways in which we do so:
Zoom supports the free and open exchange of thoughts and ideas. We are proud to facilitate meaningful conversations and professional collaboration around the world. Zoom provides a high-quality portal to domestic and cross-border communication that, in some places, might not otherwise take place.
In October, 2020, we published our first Community Standards. These standards describe the types of content and behavior we prohibit, and they help us keep Zoom vibrant and reduce risk of harm. In March 2021, we published our note on Academic Freedom, which extends extra protection to speech in the higher education context.
In general, we rely on reports and public-facing information to discover potential violations.
We respect the right of our users to express diverse views and opinions, and commit to educating our users via our Community Standards regarding what content and expression is not permitted on our platform. In our Community Standards, we take special care to safeguard the speech of those who are in protected classes.
We understand that people will have different expectations of how Zoom does “content moderation” depending on how they use Zoom. Those expectations will be different for personal one-on-one conversations, family celebrations, work meetings, large public events, and academic courses, to name just a few uses of Zoom.
Rather than try to create different standards for each use of Zoom, we publish a single standard – our Community Standards. Context is vitally important to all of our Trust and Safety decisions and is a factor whenever we evaluate a report of a potential violation.
Below are different aspects of our review process for reports. Zoom is committed to learning and improving, and we also have some features we expect to release in 2021: clear notification of any adverse actions taken on a user account, and an appeals process for most kinds of actions.
When a user makes a report about a violation of our Community Standards or Terms of Service, our Trust and Safety team will investigate and, if needed, take action as quickly as possible. Our streamlined dashboard collects reports in one place, generating meaningful data so we can learn from each report and refine our processes over time.
Zoom uses both “strikes” and “blocks” to ensure that when we need to act, the action is proportionate to the violation. This means that in some circumstances (for example, credible threats of violence) we might block a user on the first report of a violation. In other instances, we might record a strike, and block a user only when they have accumulated a certain number of strikes.
We have special procedures for reports in educational contexts – such as our Academic Freedom note – out of consideration for the unique role that Zoom plays in both K-12 and higher ed settings.
We have a four-tiered system to review reports of alleged violations of our Community Standards and Terms. Most reports go first to Tier I analysts. Our Tier I reviewers have passed a resiliency screening and have mental health resources available to them. Reports that cannot be resolved quickly are escalated to Tier II or III, which also handle some subject matters in the first instance.
Our highest level is Tier IV, the Appeals Panel. The Appeals Panel makes decisions about reports escalated from Tier III – these are our most controversial or hard-to-classify matters.
Tier IV panelists represent a variety of backgrounds, departments and tenures as Zoom employees. They are selected for their demonstrated track record of good judgment, open-mindedness, and listening skills. For more information on our tier system, please see our Trust Center page about it here.
We allow users to appeal adverse decisions about their accounts if they believe a decision was made in error. Deplatformed users will receive notice of the action when they attempt to log in, along with information about how to appeal. Appeals may be submitted here.
We document each report that we receive through the Trust Form, including how we dispose of it. For Tier III and Tier IV matters, we maintain a decision bank with more detailed information and reasoning, in order to learn from every single report we receive.
Zoom has an extensive array of privacy features to help our users control who attends their meetings, webinars and events and how those attendees participate. Our users control whether, when and where to store their content, and who has access to it. For more information, please see our Privacy Statement.
Zoom offers end-to-end encryption for meetings. When enabled, this feature gives users the ability to host meetings where nobody except each participant has access to the encryption keys being used to encrypt the meeting in transit.
Zoom is committed to protecting user data. We only produce user data to governments in response to valid and lawful requests in accordance with our Government Requests Guide. Subject to limited exceptions, we notify users when we provide their information to governments.
On occasion, we receive a government request to restrict their jurisdiction’s access to a meeting. If that request is valid and properly scoped, Zoom may employ a geoblock. In those cases, Zoom restricts the access of a jurisdiction’s users from a particular meeting based on geography. This means that we can comply with valid requests from local authorities while protecting the meeting in question for participants outside those borders. If the meeting at issue is hosted within the requesting jurisdiction, however, we may block the meeting entirely. In either case, we notify the host in advance, and we also report these “restrict access requests” in our Transparency Report.
In December 2020, we published our first Transparency Report, which documents how we responded to requests from law enforcement agencies and government authorities in the reporting period. Zoom believes that transparency is critical to building trust and fostering the free and open exchange of ideas. For this reason, we intend to publish our transparency reports semiannually going forward.
Please check back from time to time for updates on all the ways we uphold our commitment to our user’s digital human rights here at Zoom.