Zoom has turned off telephone access for webinar attendees as of Tuesday, September 9.
There is no explanation or background information from the company. They posted a notice on their help site yesterday under “New updates for the Zoom client.” This morning I received a notification email. I’m not sure if that went out to all Zoom account holders or those who have the Webinar option enabled or if it went out through their Service Status system (if you are a Zoom host, you really should register yourself to receive status updates on https://status.zoom.us/ to stay up on issues as they happen).
The notice says that telephone options are disabled for Zoom Webinar attendees, but that hosts and panelists may continue to dial in to speak. The service disruption does not affect “regular” Zoom Meetings, which make up the bulk of their business. The ominous part is a sentence saying that Zoom plans to re-enable telephone access for webinar attendees “in the next few weeks.” Gulp! This isn’t some quick glitch… It must be indicative of a major security flaw built into the design.
This is going to throw a lot of webinar hosts for a loop. I saw one news story from last night where a local town council in Florida was forced to cancel their scheduled meeting because citizens could suddenly not get phone access to listen to the governmental session. Today’s going to be a mess and it doesn’t help that getting through to Zoom technical support can be a very long waiting game. If you know someone who uses Zoom Webinars, you might want to make sure they have seen the news.
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 9
I just received a new status update from Zoom. It says that they are now letting webinar attendees call in via toll (local) phone numbers. The telephone services that are disabled for attendees are "Call Me" (where the system calls out to a phone number you give it) and toll-free dial-in. So that's certainly better!