The dark subtext to that viral #PoorJennifer video

PSA: don’t post your colleagues’ embarrassing Zoom moments on social media.

Due to the coronavirus lockdown, more of us than ever are working from home. Which means that, across the globe, thousands are doing their best to get to grips with conference call technology.

Here at Stylist, we’ve been finding Zoom… well, a little tricky. However, we’ve got the basics down: mute when you’re not speaking, keep the volume down when you are (nobody likes a feedback echo), and turn your camera off if you don’t want anyone to see what you’re up to.

Everyone makes mistakes, however. And, in a video which has since been removed from social media (more on that later), a woman has gone viral for forgetting that third rule.

In the clip, the woman – referred to only as Jennifer – can be seen walking through her home via the gallery view of a Zoom conference call.

“It depends on the ethical standards of a profession, and from what I’ve heard social work has very high standards,” a speaker can be heard saying, as Jennifer places her laptop on the floor, enters her bathroom and proceeds to make use of her toilet.

When Jennifer realises her mistake, she quickly turns her laptop to face the wall. And it is at this point that the woman leading the call (presumably a senior manager) asks what’s happening, prompting Jennifer’s colleagues to cover for her.

The original video was viewed over 7 million times before it was removed from Twitter, causing the hashtag #PoorJennifer to begin trending. Others have captured it and shared it themselves, with the majority of viewers finding the footage so funny that they have opined the “conference call mishap” must have been staged.

Some, taking the video at face value, have praised Jennifer for her multi-tasking skills and new “legend status”. However, an increasing number of people have since pointed out that, if the footage was real, then someone on the call must have posted the video. 

And, following the OG post’s removal, many have expressed concerns that all of this was done without Jennifer’s consent.

“I hope #PoorJennifer knows that she can press charges against whoever videotaped and posted that video,” tweeted one. “I hope she does. And shame on her trashy, disgusting, co-worker for posting this. I hope they lose their job.”

Another said: “Most of us that do video conferencing have had our own close call or embarrassing story. We just didn’t have an asshole coworker that posted it. Keep your head up Jennifer.”

One more noted: “When I first watched this I didn’t know what was happening and then I realised. And yeah, I laughed and then I was upset because this is so violating. I’m not sure who of her coworkers posted this for the world to see but you’re an asshole.”

“People out here saying #PoorJennifer because she forgot she was video chatting and went to the bathroom but it’s more of #PoorJennifer for someone seeing that and immediately putting it online for EVERYONE to see,” said another.

“Not every humiliating thing has to be shared.”

Another wrote: “Put a sticker or stamp over the camera on your laptop if you’re not familiar with Zoom. Also, don’t be the jerk who posts embarrassing videos of someone on social media when said zoom meeting goes awry. So cruel. Poor Jennifer is an understatement.”

And still one more said: “If you are setting up Zoom for a meeting, DISABLE THE VIDEO RECORDING OPTION. There is no reason to have that enabled unless you actually want the video. And don’t post videos of people without permission!”

We wholeheartedly agree with the above. Because, while we get that we all need some respite right now, the solution shouldn’t come from humiliating others. 

Maybe Jennifer gave her consent. Maybe the entire #PoorJennifer video was staged. Either way, don’t be inspired to do something similar. Not only is it illegal (while you can record any conversation you have with another person, you absolutely can’t share the information with a third party), but imagine how you would feel if a similarly embarrassing video of yourself went viral – a video of yourself half-naked, and in a vulnerable, compromising position, at that.

With this in mind, we have a fourth rule to add to the Zoom etiquette list: never, ever film or otherwise record and share a conversation online unless you have the consent of all other call attendees. End of.

Image: Alessia Armenise

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