Hackers hijack Aimee Winder Newton’s virtual town hall with pornography and racial slurs

(Photo courtesy of Facebook Live) In a screen grab from Facebook Live, Gubernatorial candidate Aimee Winder Newton and running mate John Dougall discuss how hackers took over their virtual town hall meeting on Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Hackers took over gubernatorial candidate Aimee Winder Newton’s virtual town hall for state delegates on Thursday night, flooding it with pornographic images and racial slurs.

Winder Newton and her running mate, state Auditor John Dougall, moved their meeting to Facebook Live after losing control of the other virtual space.

The pair posted another video late Thursday to discuss what happened on Zoom, a video meeting platform that has gained popularity as in-person gatherings are canceled due to the coronavirus.

Winder Newton, a member of the Salt Lake County Council, said this was the campaign’s first Zoom meeting, a chance to share their ideas and meet with voters since they can’t do so in person.

They were using an account set up by the Utah Republican Party.

The meeting began normally. Both she and Dougall had given introductions and then — “We had hackers that basically took over,” Winder Newton said.

She said “graphic” and “inappropriate” images were shared on the screen, and viewers could hear laughing and racial slurs.

When the moderator tried to intervene and mute those people, she found she couldn’t, Winder Newton said.

Dougall said, “They had taken over admin control. This is something called Zoom-bombing. It’s become a thing in the last few days.”

Both Winder Newton and Dougall apologized to viewers. About 130 were watching when the hackers took over. They spoke and answered questions on Facebook Live for about 50 minutes afterward.

“One of the things you learn with this, is you have to find new ways to adapt and change,” Winder Newton said.