Zoom is pushing the boundaries of the free version of its video conferencing software over the Christmas period to help families around the world communicate safely in the midst of the pandemic.
Free accounts are usually limited to 40-minute long calls, which expire abruptly at the deadline. Zoom has announced that these borders will be removed for two weeks including the last day of Hanukah, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The company said: “As a token of thanks to our customers at an incredible time, we are removing the 40-minute limit on free Zoom accounts for all meetings across the globe for a number of times. special to come.
“Whether they are coming together on the last day of Hanukkah, celebrating Christmas, ringing in the new year or celebrating the last days of Kwanzaa, those who celebrate connecting with friends and short family. ”
The news was welcomed by health experts who have been pushing for rallies to be at a social distance despite the UK government taking a break over time.
“I hope others set an example,” said Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews. “The message is very simple: meeting over Christmas is a risk for you, your family and your community. It will be a gift for the virus, because a Christmas dinner table is the perfect setting to give it away, but if someone got sick it would be just about the worst gift we could give each other.
“For a few special cases it will make sense to meet – if you have a relationship with a limited life expectancy or are experiencing severe mental health problems from loneliness. But they will be unique. And if everyone takes advantage of the flexibility, diseases will come in and there will be mourning in January. “
Reicher suggested that the government should learn from Zoom’s offer and work with other companies to provide more free options to replace personal socialization.
“They could ask a number of departments (especially those who have done well in the pandemic) to help in a whole range of ways – what to give the latest games to young people who have been asked to help themselves. break up. The problem then – and I speak as the father of a 16 – year – old – is to take them out of their rooms instead of trying to keep them inside. Or, say, a free link over Christmas so everyone knows as much as they can without data limits. “
Susan Michie, director of the UCL Center for Behavior Change, raised Reicher’s calls for further assistance. “We need to remember that many households do not have access to the internet or do not have digital equipment that would allow them to use this,” she said.
Michie, a member of Sage and Independent Sage, said the latter group had “asked every household with children to provide laptops or tablets connected to the internet, in order to differences in education that caused last year’s disruption reduced education. ”
Zoom is not the only option for Christmas that is social remote. Google Meet is free to all users until March 31, and several other services including Facebook Messenger, Apple’s FaceTime and Epic’s Houseparty have always been free to all -use.