UCD lecture on violence against women “Zoom-bombed” by pornography and sexist abuse

Matthew Joyce

An online lecture on violence against women in County Clare during the War of Independence was cut short after attendees began shouting sexist and racist abuse and playing pornography.

The lecture was being given by Dr. Mary McAuliffe, the Director of the Gender Studies Programme in University College Dublin (UCD).

Speaking to The Journal, Dr. McAuliffe said shortly after describing an attempted sexual assault in Clare in 1920, “horrific pornographic images” began to appear, “misogynistic and racist messages” appeared in the chat, and abuse was being shouted at her.

The lecture was being hosted by the Kilrush and District Historical Society, with more than 60 people in attendance.

“I feel so bad for all of the attendees and particularly the older ones, I could see people were shocked,” Dr. McAuliffe said, adding she felt it was like a “personalised attack”.

This form of attack is being labelled as “Zoom-bombing”, which refers to the unwanted, disruptive intrusion by Internet trolls into a Zoom call.

This has commonly occurred when a Zoom meeting link is posted on social media without the host’s permission.

Previously, in January, a man disrupted an online vigil for the teacher Ashling Murphy, and appeared to masturbate live on camera.

That event in question was referred to Gardai, and the organisers submitted a full report to Zoom.

The organisers of the UCD event say they tracked down the ring leader’s Twitter account, which showed a network of “misogynists” that purposely coordinate these attacks.

The account has since been suspended.

Dr. McAuliffe said she looked at the account before it was suspended, and she saw posts including “zoombomb this meeting” and “we managed to shut them down hahaha”.

Matthew Joyce

Image Credit: The Observer