Zoom criticized for privacy and data concerns, Airbnb apologizes and pledges $250M to hosts, and NPR skips April Fools’ Day

Also: Influencers’ communities ask how they can help, Uber offers free rides for frontline health care workers, how communicators are sharing information during the pandemic, and more.

Good morning, communicators:

Along with many organizations, NPR is skipping the pranks for April Fools’ Day.

Co-host of NPR’s Weekend Edition and Up First, Lulu Garcia-Navarro, tweeted:

As people worldwide are reeling from the affects of COVID-19, you’d be smart to do the same and skip today’s holiday pranks.

Here are today’s top stories:

Zoom slammed for privacy concerns and data sharing

As the virtual conference platform’s membership and meeting numbers are sharply rising, so are privacy concerns. The FBI has issued a warning regarding “Zoom-bombing” following cases of people jumping into meetings uninvited, yelling racial slurs or showing inappropriate imagery.

Business Insider published instructions on how to enable virtual waiting rooms in Zoom, and PCMag published several ways to protect yourself from the interruptions, including requiring meeting passwords and selectively enabling certain participants to share their screens.

Zoom has also been criticized for sharing user data with Facebook—even if the users don’t connect (or have) a Facebook account, and without disclosing the sharing in their terms of service.

CBS News reported:

Zoom officials acknowledged its data sharing in blog posts and said they have changed the practice.

CEO Eric Yuan said company officials “were made aware” of Facebook data sharing last week, after a news report from Vice Media detailed the practice. Yuan said the sharing began after Zoom gave users the option of logging on via a Facebook Software Development Kit, or SDK.

“Our customers’ privacy is incredibly important to us, and therefore we decided to remove the Facebook SDK in our [Apple-based] client and have reconfigured the feature so that users will still be able to log in with Facebook via their browser,” Yuan said in a blog post.

Why it’s important: Virtual solutions to meetings, networking, collaboration, events and more have become crucial to connecting people staying at home amid the COVID-19 outbreak. However, convenience doesn’t negate people’s right to privacy. Disclose how you’re using data and make sure you’re following privacy best practices before you’re forced to do so through regulations (some of you might already be, through Europe’s GDPR).


How are you sharing information with consumers and employees during the COVID-19 crisis? Are you talking about the financial risk your organization faces?

How about employee benefits and relief, worker protection measures or supply chain issues?

Some PR pros spoke with PR Daily Editor Ted Kitterman to share how they see the crisis impacting organizations and clients and what leaders should be sharing with their various publics.


How are you or your organization trying to give back and be of service to your community during the current crisis?

We want to hear from you.

Many organizations are trying to help make a difference in these difficult times and we want to highlight your efforts. Share your stories, triumphs, takeaways and tips with Roula Amire, vice president of editorial for Ragan Communications. Reach her at RoulaA@ragan.com.


 Uber is offering 10 million rides and food deliveries for frontline health care workers, senior citizens and others in need during the pandemic:

Uber’s United Kingdom arm is also reaching out with free rides for health care workers:

Now is an excellent time to build goodwill with the communities you serve, especially if you are an organization like Uber with a rocky PR history.

Airbnb to hosts: ‘When your business suffers, our business suffers’

The company’s co-founder, chief executive and head of community, Brian Chesky, apologized to hosts in a video, promising to pay $250 million to “help cover the cost of COVID-19 cancellations” along with creating ways for guests to send donations to hosts.

In his video (followed by a letter to hosts), Chesky said:

While I believe we did the right thing in prioritizing health and safety, I’m sorry that we communicated this decision to guests without consulting you—like partners should. We have heard from you and we know we could have been better partners.

Although it may not have felt like it, we are partners. When your business suffers, our business suffers. We know that right now many of you are struggling, and what you need are actions from us to help, not just words.

The $250 million promised will enable Airbnb to give hosts 25% of what they’d “normally receive” through their cancellation policies, applying to reservations for March 14 to May 31.

Airbnb is also offering “Superhosts” grants up to $5,000 to help pay for rent or a mortgage from a $10 million relief fund.

Why it matters: In today’s gig economy, many organizations and platforms are successful because of the members involved, whether that’s through delivery and driver contractors (Grubhub, Seamless, Instacart, Lyft, Uber), content creators (YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, Snapchat, TikTok), or other sellers, artisans and hosts (eBay, Etsy, Airbnb). Consider those members’ needs in your decisions as well as your words and actions.

Just as employee communicators should alert members of their workforce to news and changes before it hits headlines, organizations and platforms dependent on members’ contributions should consult with and/or warn them of upcoming changes before making them—or at the very least, immediately after.


Influence Central surveyed nearly 400 social media influencers on changing trends across online platforms amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Seventy percent said their followers are asking how they can help, which highlights opportunities for both nonprofits and other organizations looking for ways to increase messaging and support.

Image courtesy of Influence Central.


Ragan Communications has launched a new daily newsletter to bring readers the latest headlines, tools and insights to help them manage their communications during the COVID-19 crisis and tough moments that may come long after the pandemic is over.

The newsletter will contain tips on:

  • Remote work and culture issues
  • Health care communications
  • Internal communications
  • Crisis response tips
  • Human resources best practices
  • Technology updates
  • External communication
  • And more

Sign up to get the daily eNewsletter directly in your inbox.


Uber Eats partnered with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and Guy Fieri to create the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which gives aid to those affected by the pandemic:

The service is also partnering with supermarket and service chains in Europe to bring supplies to consumers’ doors:

 TechCrunch reported:

Uber’s food delivery division said today it’s inked a partnership with supermarket giant Carrefour in France to provide Parisians with 30 minute home delivery on a range of grocery products, including everyday foods, toiletries and cleaning products.

… In Spain it’s partnered with the Galp service station brand to offer a grocery delivery service that consists of basic foods, over the counter medicines, beverages and cleaning products in 15 cities across the following 8 provinces: Badajoz, Barcelona, Cádiz, Córdoba, Madrid, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia.

 If you are planning to give back or offer relief to your community, finding a partner for your efforts can make sure that your campaign is aligned with what the community needs and lend credibility to your organization.


We asked what skills you’re focusing on learning or strengthening as you work from home, and nearly 36% of you said you’re bolstering social and digital media skills. Roughly 33% are honing their crisis planning and execution expertise, while 20% are brushing up on employee relations best practices. Only 11% are focusing on data and measurement skills:


 Is it a bigger risk to share too much about COVID-19 or to be too quiet? Will consumers be more likely to punish your brand for sharing too little or for inundating them with updates?

Share your thoughts in our Twitter poll, below and under our #DailyScoop hashtag.



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