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Zoom Lifts Call Limit on Free Accounts Over Festive Season


Zoom will help families socialise safely over the festive season by removing the limits on the free version of its software.

Free accounts on the video conferencing software usually carry a 40-minute time limit, after which the call ends abruptly. Zoom has announced that the limits will be lifted for a two-week period which will cover Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Day.

Zoom said: “As a token of appreciation to our users during an extraordinary time, we’re removing the 40-minute limit on free Zoom accounts for all meetings globally for several upcoming special occasions.

“Whether coming together on the final day of Hanukkah, celebrating Christmas, ringing in the new year or marking the last days of Kwanzaa, those connecting with friends and family won’t get cut short.”

Health experts, who have been calling for social distancing measures to remain in place over the festive period, have welcomed the news:

“I hope it is an example that others will follow,” said professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews, Stephen Reicher. “The message is very simple: meeting over Christmas is a risk to you, your family and your community. It will be a gift to the virus, because a crowded Christmas dinner table is the ideal condition for transmission, but if anyone were to fall ill it would be just about the worst present we could give to each other.

“For a few exceptional cases it will make sense to meet up – if you have a relative with limited life expectancy or suffering severe mental health problems from isolation. But they will be exceptional. And if everybody takes advantage of the flexibility then infections will surge and there will be mourning in January.”

Reicher urged the government to work with other companies to provide more alternatives to in-person socialising: “They could ask various sectors (especially those that have done well in the pandemic) to help out in a whole series of ways – say give the latest games to young people asked to self-isolate. The problem then – and I speak as the father of a 16-year-old – would be ever to get them out of their rooms rather than trying to keep them in. Or, say, free connection over Christmas so everyone can keep in touch as much as they like without data limits.”

Reicher’s calls were echoed by the director of the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change, Susan Michie. “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 make use of this,” Michie said.

Harry Pererra
Harry Pererra

Harry turns on his experience in journalism and programming to write about the latest news in the world of tech and the environemtn. When he isn’t writing for usave he is working towards his Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and prefers dogs to cats.

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