Zuckerberg Slammed for Tone-Deaf Virtual-Reality Tour of Devastated Puerto Rico


On Monday, Zuckerberg live-streamed a virtual reality video of his 3D cartoon self-along with Facebook's head of social VR Rachel Franklin-"touring" Puerto Rico, which was hit by a Category 4 hurricane in September.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today that his company is working with the American Red Cross to target aid efforts in Puerto Rico using artificial intelligence and satellite imagery to identify areas to deliver aid.

In a way to demo their new Facebook Spaces app VR app, Mark Zuckerberg made a decision to virtually tour hurricane devastated Puerto Rico with cartoon avatars. "One of the things that's really magical about virtual reality is you can get the feeling that you're really in a place".

"Rachel and I aren't even in the same building in the physical world, but it feels like we're in the same place and can make eye contact".

The video begins with Zuckerberg's and Franklin's avatars at Facebook's campus in Menlo Park, California, according to The Guardian.

But the video is also cringeworthy: Zuck stops in front of an image of a flooded street and observes "this street is completely flooded", prompting Rubin to say "It's insane to feel like you are here". They later visited the virtual moon, but not until a technical glitch interrupted transmissions and kicked them back into reality for a while.

Both Zuckerberg and Franklin were criticismed by viewers for the insensitivity of their comments and the presentation as a whole was called "passerby touristic voyeurism" by users on social media.

He also said that Facebook used satellite imagery to create so-called "population maps" that the Red Cross can use to see heavily populated areas and more quickly determine who needs help.

Despite the value of 'safety check, ' it only works if people are connected to the internet.

Facebook has donated $1.5 million to the relief effort, the CEO said. The team will help to increase coordination in relief efforts.

Alison Main of Mashable said "Zuckerberg sending his cartoon avatar to the ravaged streets of Puerto Rico" was a "tone-deaf misstep", and that "he capitalized on a natural disaster to promote his company's new tech".

Needless to say, many weren't happy with the use of disaster relief to sell a product.