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Petersburg Planning Commission meeting interrupted with pornography

Inappropriate images were on display for about 7 seconds before a city official took them down.
Inappropriate images were on display for about 7 seconds before a city official took them down.((Source: Facebook))
Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 11:21 PM EST
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PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - Petersburg leaders were left stunned following an unexpected surprise during a virtual meeting Wednesday.

Someone’s pornographic images appeared on-screen for all to see. It was just a matter of seconds before officials were able to remove them, but the meeting wasn’t able to move forward.

In today’s virtual reality, experts say there are several steps organizations should be taking to keep this from happening to them.

The Petersburg Planning Commission was set to hear from the public about re-zoning requests. As leaders were waiting on their counterparts to arrive, suddenly there was an unexpected surprise.

“Oh no, nope. Sorry,” a leader quickly said.

“Shut it down, Reggie. Shut it down,” another said signaling for a technology official to remove the display.

Graphic pornography overtook the Zoom meeting - apparently from someone using their cell phone who shared their screen for all to see. The images are too obscene for NBC12 to share.

“That one was full screen. Whew,” one of the leaders remarked.

A Petersburg organizer quickly posted on Twitter “Someone just zoombombed the planning commission meeting with porn. My eyes!”

“Unfortunately this did happen. While waiting for the meeting to begin, someone (not sure of who) did begin showing their camera to reveal inappropriate and pornographic imagery. The virtual connection was immediately ended by City Staff…We’re working with our IT team to explore further security for the virtual Zoom meetings,” City Spokesperson Folakemi Osoba said.

It’s not the first time this has happened in Petersburg. Last April, someone hacked into a video conference of the city council and exposed himself. City leaders quickly logged off.

“It’s more and more of these instances that are happening,” IT expert Will spencer said.

He encourages groups to require passwords for virtual meetings and consider other precautions.

“Disabling video or screen share from the participants. That’s one of the first things I would have done to only allow the host to present….Another thing that people running meetings should be aware of also is employing the same security settings within the chat. There’s a lot of things that go on in the chat also, so you may want to disable gifs or memes and things of that nature when you’re conducting meetings.”

Spencer says virtual meeting providers are constantly updating their security settings. He urges organizations to become familiar with them in advance instead of waiting until the damage is already done.

Osoba says Petersburg will update the public if or when that meeting can be rescheduled.

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