How do you make the perfect pandemic-era viral video?
Obviously, you’re going to need a Zoom mishap (preferably during what’s supposed to be a formal setting) and a cat. Instant internet gold.
It’s little wonder, then, that Texas lawyer Rod Ponton replaced Jackie Weaver as social media’s ‘main character’ after accidentally turning up to a virtual court session with a cat filter switched on.
In a recording of the incident, a panicked Ponton can be heard saying in the guise of a doe-eyed kitten:
“Can you hear me, Judge? It is [a filter], I don’t know how to remove it. I’ve got my assistant here, she’s trying to but I’m prepared to go forward with it. I’m here live… I’m not a cat.”
Jude Roy Ferguson, who was presiding over the 394th District Court proceedings in Brewster County, Texas, tweeted out a YouTube link to the recording. He wrote:
“IMPORTANT ZOOM TIP: If a child used your computer before you join a virtual hearing check the Zoom Video Options to be sure filters are off. This kitten just made a formal announcement on a case in the 394th.”
The video quickly spread across Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp, where it gained a variety of fans.
Speaking to The New York Times, Ponton said he was "happy" to let the country "chuckle for a moment in these difficult times they’re going through" at his expense.
He told Motherboard that the case went ahead as normal when the filter was finally removed.
"[It] was just a mistake by my secretary. I was using her computer and for some reason she had that filter on. I took it off and replaced it with my face. It was a case involving a man trying to exit the United States with contraband and contraband cash. All it was was a mistake. It was taken off and we had the hearing as normal."