by Anthony 

November 25, 2021

Since we’ve all been working from home, one of the most common questions between my colleagues is whether the host of a Zoom meeting has special access to see messages sent between participants? To be absolutely sure, I decided to test it.

The host of a Zoom meeting cannot see private chat messages sent between participants in a meeting. Participants have the option to message each other, the host, or everyone. The Host can only see chat messages sent directly to them or broadcast to everyone.

Zoom’s own support website confirms this. It reads: “When sending messages to an individual participant, private chats are never visible to the meeting’s host. Additionally, if the host saves the chat, private messages between participants do not appear on the chat transcript.”

Still, here’s an actual demonstration of a test I conducted.

Zoom meeting with multiple participants

So here I am in my weekly Zoom meeting with my two colleagues Wilson and Herman.

Herman and Wilson are connected by their mobile phones, and in the main window you can see that I am the host of the meeting. In the bottom right corner is the main chat box.

Now I admit, my meetings can be a little bit dry and they do tend to drag on a bit.

Wilson decides he’ll chat to Herman with his thoughts on how the meeting is progressing. You’ll note that Wilson selects to message Herman directly which is crucial to making sure no one else on the call will be able to read those messages.

Zoom private message to a participant

You’ll also notice that Herman receives the message, but nothing pops up in the main chat window.

Wilson and Herman can happily chat away whilst I am waffling on about the weekly sales figures.

Zoom participants privately chatting

If you do want to broadcast your message, simply set the Send to option to ‘Everyone’, and the message will display to everybody’s chat window.

Zoom participant message to everyone

I hope this puts your mind at rest, knowing that your private messages cannot be seen by the host. However, there is a possible exception. Read on to find out.

Be Mindful Of Those Default Settings

Be aware that the default setting is to broadcast messages to everyone. It is crucial to select the ‘Send To’ option and choose the participant you wish to message before writing your message.

It’s also worth noting that, according to Zoom, chat messages are not transcribed or displayed on recordings of the meeting.

However, this might not be true for the Host. If, as the Host, you send a message to another participant, this may be recorded in the transcript or shown in the recording. Be careful before sharing your transcript and recording with others. It’s always worth watching it over once, or reading it through, to be on the safe side.

Of course, the best approach is to be polite and courteous at all times while on a call. That way, if the worst was to happen, and you inadvertently broadcast a message, no one will be upset, and you’ll be able to put it down to ‘technical difficulties.’

So that is our little demonstration, I hope you find this article useful. For more tips like this, please check my YouTube playlist for Zoom.

P.S.

Here are a few more information related to the private chat messages.

Are direct messages and private messages the same?

They are exactly the same. Zoom gives you the option to send a message directly to another participant, and that participant alone. Therefore, the message is deemed private.

In contrast, a message sent to ‘Everyone’ is the same as a public message.

Note that the chat box keeps the last Send To option that you used. So be extra careful when you are alternating between sending a message to Everyone and sending a direct message to another participant. It might be safer to use a different chat tool altogether for sending direct messages frequently.

Where are zoom chats saved?

Unless the host disabled it, both hosts and participants can manually save chat messages. This is done by clicking on Save Chat under the three dots More option in the chat box.

The file will be saved in the default zoom folder, which is the same as the recording folder. You can see this by going to Settings > Recording.

If you are a participant, you can save all messages visible to you, which includes messages sent to everyone from the time you joined, as well as messages sent privately to you.

If you are a host, this includes all messages sent to everyone, as well as messages sent privately to you. It would not include direct messages sent by participants to each other.

As a participant, you also have the option to enable auto saving chats for your own use. You can toggle this by going to Settings, then click on the Meeting tab, then click In Meeting (Basic). Scroll down and enable Auto Saving chats.

As a host, you can enable automatic saving of the chat messages thru the settings page as well. And if you are recording the Zoom meeting to the Zoom cloud, you can also save the chat messages with it.

Why can’t I send private messages?

This is a setting that the Zoom host has to enable. Although, the host cannot see the private messages, the host can control if chatting is allowed for that particular zoom call.

Facts of Apps

  • Due to the pandemic of 2020, Zoom gained an exponential increase in users. Jumping from 10 million users at the end of December 2019 to 200 million daily meeting participants by April 2020.
  • Hosts and co-hosts have very similar permissions. So co-hosts also cannot see private chat messages.
  • The zoom host includes all kinds of hosts, from company bosses to teachers or professors for online classes.
  • You can stop zoom chat pop-ups by going to Settings, then click on the Chat tab. Uncheck the option “Show floating notification when I receive a chat message”. Another way to stop pop-ups without having to change anything on the Settings is to make sure you are not on full screen, and then open the chat box. This would open the chat panel as a sidebar and all new messages would appear there instead of a pop-up.
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