A Financial Times reporter has been suspended after the Independent accused him of listening in on sensitive Zoom meetings held by its senior managers telling staff about salary cuts and furloughs.
Mark Di Stefano, who joined the FT from BuzzFeed in January, has been accused of listening to the audio feed of video conference calls held by the Independent and its sister title the Evening Standard about responding to the financial impact of coronavirus.
In each case Di Stefano, a prolific tweeter with more than 100,000 followers, broke the news of the meetings on Twitter at the same time as staff were being informed.
A story on the measures being introduced by the Evening Standard, which is edited by the former chancellor George Osborne, was subsequently published by the FT. A summary of the cuts at the online-only Independent was published in the FT’s daily live blog.
The Independent claimed Zoom log files showed an account registered to Di Stefano’s FT.com email address joined the video call for Independent staff last week for 16 seconds.
The caller’s video was disabled, but some journalists apparently saw his name flash briefly on screen before he left the meeting.
Minutes later a separate account joined the call, this time unnamed, the Independent said. It claimed the caller remained in audio-only mode with a black square displayed to journalists on the video call.
The anonymous user account, which remained in the meeting until the end, was later shown to be linked to a mobile phone used by the same FT reporter.
Zoom has a password feature for meetings, and the ability to see if “unnamed” people are connected. Sure, it’s wrong to join meetings you’re not invited to. But it’s also trivially easy to prevent people from doing so. Hint: If you see a black square with no name on your zoom meeting….don’t say anything sensitive until you figure out who it is.