“Others Too”: Zoom's Terrible Communication Misstep

by Pierre Morsa

You may have heard about it, a basic security problem was found in Zoom for Mac, that allowed attackers to turn the camera on remotely. Zoom is an application used to organize videoconferences on the web. It works well and has been widely adopted by corporations and individuals seeking to provide a quality service to employees working remotely or on different sites.

The security problem itself was easy to correct, and, at the time of this article, should have been fixed. But there is something else Zoom needs to fix: its crisis communication approach. One thing in particular made users and the security community extremely unhappy: the “others do it too” attitude. It’s exactly when you reprimand your child because he did something wrong, and he answers, “but other kids did it too!” As a parent, it’s only going to make you even more annoyed. Why? Because that shows he doesn’t get the point, and that instead of learning from his mistake, he’s trying to get approval for his incorrect behavior. And this is basically what Zoom’s initial answer was: “We don’t need to fix this problem, and it’s not really a problem because others do it too.”

This is what we call the “others too” communication mistake. Using others’ bad behavior to justify yours. Pointing others’ mistakes is fine if you clearly show that you’re going to correct yours. Zoom’s impact would have been completely different if they had said, “We’re going to fix this problem immediately, others have that problem too.” By taking responsibility to correct their mistake first, the rest of the communication takes a whole different meaning. Small difference in wording, huge difference in result.

Finger pointing