Zoom profile pictures disabled by district


Brayden Davis and Bryce Hall

On about Sept. 4, 2020, school district administrators quietly disabled the functionality of Zoom profile pictures, due to reports of students using the feature inappropriately. Many students, upon opening up Zoom in the morning, noticed that they only saw their name placed in a black box on the screen, rather than their personalized profile pictures.

The decision was made due to several incidents where students had inappropriate images or text saved as their profile pictures.

“Some incidents that happened that first week of school with you know, kids testing boundaries with what is inappropriate some of them were just so far over the line…you couldn’t argue that they were appropriate,” said Scott Beebe, executive director of digital learning and innovation,

The district did not feel that inappropriate images were something that should be left to individual teachers to monitor or discipline by kicking offending students out of class. Instead, they decided to disable profile images to prevent any incidents from occurring.

“Once the image is posted, the damage is already done,” Beebe said. ”You can’t kick them out fast enough, because [the rest of the class has] already seen it.”

Beebe said it wasn’t “just middle school” issues that led to the decision, like some high school students put it.

“There were a couple of middle schools and there were a couple at the high school and there were quite a few just in general around different schools in the region,” Beebe said.

Student reaction to the decision was swift, and overwhelmingly negative.

“I don’t think that profile pictures are distracting,” senior Ginger Harris said. “We don’t really look at other student’s pictures, so it’s not a problem”.

Some students expressed concern that eliminating the ability to select a profile picture limits the opportunity for students and teachers to get to know each other if cameras are off.

“I think it’s lame, because then the teachers don’t know what we look like in case we come back to school,” senior Kayla Christmas said.