Hijacking of online Women's Day event shows need for gender equality movements, say organizers
VANCOUVER -- Members of a women's organization are reeling after their virtual Women's Day event was "Zoom bombed" by hackers.
The incident, they say, highlights the need for their work.
The hackers posted pornographic images along with racist and sexist comments during a fundraising event, hosted by the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre.
“At first it was some colouring on the powerpoint slides of the keynote speakers, who were two young women who came to speak,” said president Tammi Belfer.
The presenters alerted those watching that something unusual was happening, Belfer said.
“Right after that, some music came on and some pornography came on and some of us started to get messages that were horrific -- sexual connotations, calling people old hags … calling somebody the N-word, and it just breaks my heart when I hear that,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion.
“It was just a variety of inappropriate, unacceptable language, and we tried to shut it down – we are mostly a volunteer organization. We have two part time staff people that were manning (the online event) ... and another young woman we’ve hired,” she said.
“We tried to shut down the person that was (disrupting) but they kept hijacking the names, they kept changing the names, it was coming from everywhere, but it took us two minutes,” she said.
The incident highlights the need for organizations and movements that support gender equality, Belfer said.
“The importance of our work came to the forefront … and we have to continue the work … make sure that people understand that it’s not normal, and this is not acceptable and it’s not the kind of behaviour we need to put up with,” she added.
After the disruption the organization carried on with the event, that had brought 80 people together.
“It still went well, everybody kept their cool, we kept on going and we did it.”