Protect your participants' identities in Zoom meetings

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If you want to protect your participants' identities in Zoom meetings (e.g., so they can avoid disclosing that they are isolating or quarantining due to COVID-19), there are several steps you can take, including allowing participants to change their Zoom display name and setting your meetings such that participants join with their cameras off and mics muted.

Talk to your participants

Ask your participants to let you know if possible prior to the meeting if they have any concerns about being identified. Work out the details of their participation and communication in advance. Although there are several steps participants can take themselves without informing you, this may lead to misunderstandings. You might mistake someone with an unfamiliar display name for an uninvited guest and remove them from the meeting, for example. Good communication in advance can help eliminate such surprises.

How participants are identified in Zoom meetings

In a Zoom session, participants can be identified in the following ways:

  • Visually, through what they are sharing via their video camera (e.g., their face, their surroundings) or the Zoom screen sharing tool
  • Auditorially, through the sound of their voice, what they are saying, and background sounds (e.g., a friend saying hello to them) picked up by their microphone
  • Textually, through their Zoom Display Name and the messages they post in the Zoom chat tool
  • Graphically, through their Zoom profile picture

Zoom Display Names

The first time your participants signed in to Zoom using their StarID username and password, a Minnesota State Zoom Pro account was created for them and their preferred name was added to their account profile as their default Display Name. Unless they change the default Display Name, enter a different Display Name when joining a meeting, or rename themselves during the meeting, this default Display Name will be used during every meeting. When they join a Zoom session, their Display Name will be inserted in several places on the screen:

  • In the Participants list
  • Underneath their video or profile picture window
  • In place of their profile picture if they don't have one
  • Next to any message they post in Chat
  • In a notification message when they enter the Waiting Room (visible to hosts and co-hosts only)

Authentication and pseudonyms

You do not need to relax the protection on your Zoom session to accommodate participants who want to protect their identities. As long as participants are signed in to Zoom using their StarID credentials, they can change their display names and you will still be able to identify them in the Zoom meeting reports. All reports (e.g., attendance) will include participants' email addresses along with their pseudonyms. Using StarID authentication to protect your meetings whenever possible is highly recommended.

Zoom setting changes

Temporarily for a specific meeting

  1. Prior to the meeting, browse to your Minnesota State Zoom Pro web portal at and sign in with your StarID username and password.
  2. Select Meetings on the left and then select the meeting you want to edit from the list. If you want to edit the settings of your personal meeting, select the Personal Room tab at the top of the window.
  3. Select Edit towards the bottom of the window to open your meeting in edit mode (Fig 1).
  4. Switch Video...Participant to off (Fig 2.1). This will ensure that all participants join the meeting with their cameras off, no matter what settings they applied in their own accounts.
  5. Select the Mute participants upon entry checkbox (Fig 2.2) to ensure that all participants enter the meeting with their microphones muted.
  6. Select Save to save your meeting settings.
  7. During the meeting, be on the lookout for students joining using their pseudonyms.

Permanently for every meeting

If you would like to apply these changes to every subsequent meeting you create, adjust your Zoom default settings. You can always change them back later.

  1. Prior to the meeting, browse to your Minnesota State Zoom Pro web portal at and sign in with your StarID username and password.
  2. Select Settings on the far left and then select Schedule Meeting under the Meeting tab to jump to this group of settings.
  3. Move the Participants video slider off. This will ensure that all participants in all meetings join with their cameras turned off.
  4. Scroll down the list of Schedule Meeting settings and move the Mute all participants when they join a meeting slider on. This will ensure that all participants in all meetings join with their mics muted.

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