Once used as a walkie-talkie app for groups and individuals alike, Zello, a popular social media communication tool, has recently disintegrated into chaos.
At one time, Zello was utilized in the 2016 through 2018 hurricane season as a tool for communication. When power was out, cell towers sometimes provided signal, which was all Zello needed to connect to its network. It is claimed through various media reports that it indeed, saved some lives.
During that time, we also had a great deal of entertainment and fun on the application. The influx of new users from the storm ensured a lot of new people to interact with and roast rooms filled the application and trending list. Countless reports to Zello of cyberbullying, harassment, and abuse caused the eventual demise of the “trending list”, a list where the top and most active channels are displayed for new and veteran users. Once the trending list went down, rooms became virtually invite only. New users were eventually difficult to come by, ruining the app and its original flagship purpose.
Once trending was gone, rooms splintered off into various factions and groups that waged and are still waging today, cyberwarfare against each other. It has become personal and information as well as private details have been divulged. Repeated reports are that “people have died” as a result of the app. But this rumor was perpetuated long before the recent chaos during the “hurricane days” on Zello where desperate people were instructed to enter flood waters and swim for their lives, against actual safety protocol.
A report once stated that a rescue group, armed in Texas during Hurricane Harvey, came across an animal shelter containing up to 60 animals. A Zello “troll” intervened and intercepted communications and through social engineering, instructed the group to “put the dogs down or they will not be authorized to be rescued and surely suffer drowning.” It is unknown or corroborated whether indeed the rescue group euthanized any animals during that time period.
Another report stated a woman on top of her car with her nephew were stuck in a Wal-Mart parking lot in flood waters and the 911 system was down. Desperate, they turned to both social media and live walkie-talkie apps to call for help. A Zello user later instructed the duo to enter the water in the flooded parking lot and swim to safety. Unsure of what to do, the pair entered the water and communications on Zello ceased. It is unknown the result or outcome, but you can see the dark cloud of cybercrime that looms over Zello.
Eliminating the trending list wasn’t a solution to anything. They just made it more difficult to find the right spot, or in this case, the wrong spot.
Zello is a great communication tool with great potential. Sadly it has been targeted by low level cyber criminals and utilized for stalking, harassment, and the public shaming of a cast of characters. Some unwittingly, some unknowingly, and some very well undeservingly. It’s a very dangerous game that I’ve distanced myself from greatly. These are the lowest form of society. Over 6 years, as a social experiment, I’ve figured this out. Not entirely on my own. It’s insanity and criminal what happens on a daily basis on the popular application.
I used to really enjoy Zello. Now it has been relegated to a bullying application. Some of the bigger personalities of the past on Zello are now themselves tormented and harassed on a daily basis. It’s a divided environment of complete lawlessness and chaos as is evidenced by my quick foray into the current state of its madness.
It has lost its luster. It is the same daily list of miscreants that flooded the app in times past. Those same characters involved in the divulging of personal details and harassment are still cyberstalking and bullying people everyday as a primary occupation. It’s the saddest state Zello has seen since the early years.