With the world in enforced isolation, video software has become more important than ever. Conferencing apps like Zoom are a lifeline to people in lockdown. For many of us, they are the only way to see our loved ones face to face, as well as a tool for work and education.
But not everyone has managed to get their head around this new technology. Middle-aged technophobes keep accidentally turning on novelty filters. People are bad-mouthing each other without realizing that everyone can hear them. And politicians have an unfortunate habit of turning up for important meetings with no clothes on. More than a year since the start of the pandemic, the Zoom mishaps show no sign of slowing down. These are ten of the most embarrassing.
10 Naked Meeting With Brazilian President
For many of us, it is the ultimate anxiety dream. You turn up for work only to realize you are completely naked. Everything is hanging out for all of your colleagues to see. Luckily for most of us, it is nothing more than an embarrassing nightmare. But for one businessman, this actually happened. And the president of Brazil was watching.
The man appeared completely nude in an online meeting with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. Bizarrely, he decided to take a shower in the middle of the conference and accidentally left his camera on.
Paulo Skaf, an entrepreneur from São Paulo, organized the meeting for a discussion about industry. But, after spotting that one of the attendees was in his birthday suit, the president interjected, “Paulo, there’s a colleague there in the last little square. He left. Is he OK?”
Paolo Guedes, the Minister of Industry, then explained, “There is a guy having a shower there, naked.”
“Unfortunately we saw,” the president acknowledged. “It was a shaky picture but we saw.”
9 Boss Turns Herself Into A Potato
One Monday morning, workers in Washington DC logged into an online meeting to find their boss had turned herself into a potato. Lizet Ocampo had accidentally installed a filter that made her look like a spud. Her face was completely gone, replaced by an image of a potato in the soil with only her eyes and mouth visible.
As soon as they saw the potato-headed executive, everyone in the meeting burst into fits of giggles. Ocampo, a national director at People For The American Way, was bewildered by her tuberous appearance. She tried to turn the filter off, but it was no good. In the end, Ocampo decided to keep her spud-faced visage, much to the amusement of her colleagues. According to employee Rachele Clegg, who posted footage of her boss’ mishap on Twitter, the laughter lasted for a good ten minutes.
8 Irish Politician Forgets His Pants
In June 2020, Irish MEP Luke “Ming” Flanagan tuned into a European parliament meeting without wearing any pants. The Roscommon politician had just returned from a run. He threw a shirt on so that he was smartly dressed from the waist up and believed that his bottom half was off-camera. But, unknown to him, he was filming himself in portrait mode instead of landscape. Flanagan’s Continental colleagues tried to suppress their laughter as the MEP flaunted his bare legs during a discussion on agriculture policy.
Flanagan, an independent left-winger, is nicknamed Ming after the Flash Gordon character Ming The Merciless. Although, after his legwear fiasco, social media users have suggested he should be renamed Ming The Trouserless. Flanagan seems to have taken all of the ribbing in good humor. “Who could have known that my legs would be so popular? Should I get them insured?”
7 Half-Dressed Parents Get High During Their Kids’ Classes
Imagine the sight. You are getting ready for your first online class only to spot your classmate’s mom walking by in her underwear smoking a joint. Under lockdown, teachers are struggling to deal with some parents’ behavior in their remote lessons.
One Florida teacher used a school board meeting to issue a warning to the half-dressed moms and dads popping up in her online classes. Edith Pride of Boca Raton Elementary encouraged parents to put some clothes on and hide the marijuana while their kids are on Zoom.
“Parents, when you are helping your children at their computer, please do not appear with big joints in your hands and cigarettes,” Pride advised. “Those joints be as big as cigars. Oh yeah, we’ve seen it all.”
6 Lecturers Mouth Off About Student Presentations
When on Zoom, always check who can hear you before you start making rude comments. Two college lecturers found themselves in hot water after inadvertently broadcasting a stream of insults to their students.
The business lecturers were assessing student presentations at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Ireland. Neither was impressed by what they saw. After they thought the students had left the virtual meeting, the lecturers started venting about the quality of work. The pair described one student’s presentation as so painful it was like having their teeth drilled. Another, they said, was so slow it made them wonder if she was disabled.
But the lecturers’ private conversation was a lot more public than they thought. The pair failed to notice that the students were still connected to the Zoom call. Every word of their insults was broadcast live to the class. One of the students recorded their exchange and, after uploading it to social media, the college duly apologized.
5 Mexican Politician Skives Off Work Badly
Some people will try and find any excuse to sneak out of work. In September 2020, Mexican politician Valentina Batres Guadarrama was caught slyly dropping out of a Zoom meeting. The congresswoman had put up a photo of herself to feign attendance, then quietly edged out of the meeting.
But this was not the inconspicuous exit Guadarrama had hoped for. In a video of the meeting, she can be using Zoom’s background function to put up an image of herself then walking out of the meeting. After her less than discreet departure, Guadarrama’s baffled colleagues occasionally caught sight of her arm reaching over the webcam.
Jorge Gavino from Mexico’s Democratic Revolutionary Party shared the footage online, where it received over 70,000 views. “I was thinking you were paying a lot of attention to my speech,” he sassed, “until I realized that your attentive look was a photograph.”
Guadarrama denies playing truant from the meeting. She claims she put up the background by mistake and then dipped out to ask for technical help.
4 Congressman Flips Himself Upside Down
Sometimes, Zoom filters are more trouble than they are worth. In February 2021, US congressman Tom Emmer appeared in a video call with his face the wrong way round.
The Minnesota politician attended an online House of Representatives committee meeting with a filter accidentally installed. He planned to deliver a speech on job security, but his colleagues seemed distracted by his upended head. Attendees tried to hold in their laughter. “You’re upside down, Tom,” someone kindly pointed out. One person wondered whether his topsy-turvy appearance was a metaphor for the current state of the world.
Luckily, all Emmer had to do was turn his device off and on again, and he was back the right way round. If only all political issues were that easy to fix.
3 Californian School Board Bad-Mouths Parents
A school board in Northern California was caught ranting about parents after failing to realize that they were in a public Zoom meeting. The Oakley Union Elementary School committee was overheard venting about the number of complaints they had received about the school’s closure. But the group was unaware that their callous comments were being streamed live to the public.
The board accused parents of treating the school staff like babysitters, and claimed that some only want their children back in school so they can get high at home. “My brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana, and his clientele were parents with their kids at school,” they joked.
At one point, one board member went on a profanity-full rant about a parent who had criticized her on social media. “Bitch, if you’re going to call me out, I’m going to fuck you up,” she said to the laughter of her peers.
But their laughter soon turned to looks of horror when the group discovered that they were broadcasting to the public.
An NBC reporter posted footage of the meeting on social media, leading to an online petition calling for their removal. In the end, the whole board resigned.
2 Mexican Senator Goes Topless
In May 2020, a lawmaker in Mexico messed up when she joined a government Zoom meeting topless. Martha Lucía Mícher Camarena did not realize that her camera was recording when she bared her upper body during a discussion about the economy. The senator had taken her top off to get changed. The other attendees soon alerted Camarena to her slip-up, and she apologized to everybody watching.
However, the politician said she refused to be ashamed of her exposed body. “I am a woman of 66 years of age,” she wrote on Twitter, “who has breastfed four children, three of whom are today professional and responsible men, and I feel proud of my body for having nourished them.” Several of Camarena’s colleagues supported her stance, calling her an “exemplary woman.” Instead, they criticized the people who spread images of her mishap on social media.
1 Filipino Chief Caught Sleeping With Treasurer
Perhaps the worst thing you can be caught doing on Zoom is sleeping with someone. A government official in the Philippines accidentally live-streamed himself having sex with his treasurer during a video conference.
Fatima Dos village council chief Jesus Estil was discussing the pandemic with other local officials. In the middle of the meeting, he muted himself and, believing that he was hidden, began making love to his staff member. When the pair had finished, Estil slips back into the meeting as if nothing happened, unaware that he had just broadcast himself in the act.
Estil’s steamy mishap was recorded by another attendee. Both officials have resigned from their posts.