Home Politics Delta Junction council meeting disrupted by porn, trolls

Delta Junction council meeting disrupted by porn, trolls

a building
Delta Junction’s City Hall (File/KUAC)

The Zoom feed of a Delta Junction City Council meeting was interrupted by a pornographic video Tuesday. It’s the first time the council has suffered a so called “Zoombombing,” a form of hacking that occurs during an online meeting, and it’s prompted the city to adopt new new security measures.

The internet trolls struck early on in the council meeting, by playing an explicit pornographic video clip that was visible to people online. Some council members apparently were unaware of the Zoombombing until one of the trolls began verbally interrupting them a few seconds after Council member Mike Prestegard recited the prayer.

“What’s happening? What’s happening?” the troll said. “What’s happen – can I know  Can I know what’s happening?”

By then the pornographic image disappeared, but the attack of the trolls continued with their demands to speak. After a couple of outbursts, Mayor J.W. Musgrove told them to hold off until the council got to the public comment part of the agenda.

“We’re conducting a City Council meeting,” Musgrove said. “And right now is not the time for public input!”

“I just want to know what’s happening,” the troll said.

The mayor shot back: “Please identify yourself!”

“My name is Ryken,” the troll said.

As staff scrambled to regain control of the online meeting. Council member Pete Hallgren, who was out of town and participating over Zoom, said he could see the trolls’ names on his monitor.

“The name on the screen says Joao Munhoz,” Hallgren said.

That appeared to trigger the person using that alias, who began bickering with Hallgren.

“Hey Pete, can I know why you’re reading my name?” he said. “Do you have a problem with me or something?

“Absolutely I have a problem with you!” Hallgren replied “Are you trying to attend this City Council meeting in Delta Junction, Alaska?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course I’m trying to do this,” the troll said. “That’s why I’m in the meeting…

“OK then,” Hallgren said, “if you’re attending our meeting, that’s fine. Just keep your mouth shut until it’s open to public participation …”

The troll, clearly taken aback, retorted “Please, talk respectfully to me!”

City staff could be heard trying to figure out how to remove the attackers from Zoom until city Administrator Ken Greenleaf pulled the plug. Library Director Tiki Levinson, who was managing the webcast, told the online audience the virtual meeting was over.

“So, we’re sorry, but we’re going to be suspending our Zoom meeting this evening,” Levinson told the online audience. She then told Hallgren and Pam Rawson, another out-of-town council member participating in the Zoom call, to call back and resume the meeting telephonically.

Greenleaf said in an interview Wednesday that council members resumed the meeting a few minutes later by telephone and got through the whole agenda, without any more interruptions.

“To keep the meeting going,” he said, “we jumped back in and did a conference call, and facilitated the rest of the meeting with all the council people available.”

He said city officials are reviewing the meeting recording, and will pass it and other information along to Alaska State Troopers. And staff is taking precautions to make sure the city isn’t Zoombombed again.

“We’re taking it pretty seriously,” he said. “And we’re not going to stop using Zoom. We’re kind of still exploring some of our options. But there are security features that we’re making sure our people are trained on.”

Greenleaf says those additional security measures likely will require some changes in how it manages future city council meeting Zoomcasts.

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