New Yorker Staff Writer Jeffery Toobin Suspended after Indecent Public Exposure on Zoom Call–– How to Never make the same Mistakes with Video Conferencing Etiquette 101

By Jake Senn, Senior Trainer at Media Training Worldwide

On Monday, The New Yorker Suspended staff writer Jeffery Toobin after publicly exposing himself on a Zoom call.  He is currently on leave from CNN. This prior week, during a joint video call with New Yorker staff and WYNC radio employees,  Jeffery Toobin switched to a secondary call, where he was exposing himself to a lover. Little did Toobin know, he was still on the line with members of his team. 


The New York Times reports Toobin commenting on the incident,  “‘I thought I had muted the Zoom video,’ he added. ‘I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me.’” While it is highly inappropriate to be conducting this kind of behavior during a work call, If Toobin had proper training on using video conferencing software, this indecent exposure would have never occurred. 

While nobody likes being told what to do, one thing is absolutely clear–– don’t do illicit activities online using video. Strangely, this has to be said, as the current climate of our culture warrants it. During the Covid crisis, it is understandable that singles in quarantine are longing for creature comforts. Toobin was married and video conferencing with colleagues, so this was unacceptable behavior. The challenge is that anything can be recorded, saved, and reposted on a permanent record. We can never be 100% sure that we are not being recorded, screenshotted or our chatlogs are not being kept on record by either software companies, our internet providers, or anyone who has access to our content. Indiscriminately, one wrong photo or video sent to the wrong person can sabotage a career and corporations, with potential lawsuits ready to happen. 

As a rule of thumb when sharing anything online, consider this, “would you be comfortable with your mother or grandmother seeing this?”

If you are inclined to connect with your partner or spouse through Facetime, Skype, or a Zoom call, it’s essential to reset your computer to make sure nothing else is on. And it is especially important to choose your timing wisely. Just because someone is in the mood during a work call, like Toobin was, doesn’t permit unethical behavior. Try to find a time that works for both you and your partner. Logistics are one of the most critical components to set the mood responsibly. If you have a partner who does not respect that boundary, reconsider if they have your best professional interests in mind. They may not be as affected by inappropriate behavior as you could be in your career. While this may be a taboo that draws out some people’s excitableness, as it appears to be the case for Toobin, it best to consider that nobody is fully competent on the ever-evolving video platforms. Critical issues and bugs do occur on these applications. A feature that may ensure privacy today could be removed the next day through an update or a new legal terms and conditions licensing agreement for using the software.  

It is okay to reach out to a partner or spouse online, as long as it is during a time that is logistically appropriate for both of you. And be aware that performing any sexual conduct can lead to unintended consequences. 

So, how do we prevent this kind of embarrassment from happening to ourselves or to team members from our organizations?

When booking a media training for you or your organization with Media Training Worldwide, you will receive instant access to our online library training for video conferencing. Our course library includes topics such as “how to turn off your video on Zoom properly.” If Toobin had been given access to our library, Toobin might have never had to experience his career from freefalling. 

Second, your team can learn how to become video conferencing literate, which means they will know how to conduct themselves on video for an optimal presentation. Not only that, they will learn how to have excellent lighting, create crystal-clear audio, and be more present than ever on video. 

You can grab online training on how to be a presenter on Zoom using the following link for a limited time. This offer will not last long, as this code may expire as soon as the end of October.

Click the image above to access this discounted video Conference course online. Available for a limited time only.

Jake Senn is the Senior Trainer at Media Training Worldwide. He has a passion for media presentation and has published multiple online courses on the subject. When he is not conducting media training for groups in organizations or one-on-one clients, you can find him creating multimedia content on how to be a better presenter online.

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