Zuckerberg's virtual tour of devastated Puerto Rico strikes an awkward tone

Oct 11, 2017, 00:23
Zuckerberg's virtual tour of devastated Puerto Rico strikes an awkward tone

The Facebook CEO said that the company is working with the American Red Cross to aid efforts in the affected areas using satellite imagery and artificial intelligence.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and head of social VR Rachel Rubin chose to show off one of the "really neat" features of Facebook Spaces, the company's social virtual-reality platform, and used a 360-degree video shot by NPR of the storm-ravaged nation of Puerto Rico as a backdrop for their VR hangout.

A cartoonish Mark Zuckerberg avatar made an announcement through Facebook Spaces. "The bad taste of this demo shows how far out of his depth Zuckerberg is running Facebook", one Twitter user said.

The company activated community help "so if people could say they needed food or shelter people in the community could provide that", Zuckerberg said, without noting that without the internet it wouldn't work. Zuckerberg stated that "population maps" have been drawn up with the help of artificial intelligence, showing the satellite imagery and the places where the individuals are living who need help.

After mentioning the Oculus event atop Facebook's office, Zuckerberg and Franklin transported themselves into a recent NPR-produced 360-video that showed widespread damage caused by Hurricane Maria in September. Some other spots they "teleported" to included the surface of the moon and next to Zuckerberg's dog, Beast.

CNBC reporter Arjun Kharpal noted several Twitter users" disgust of the spectacle in an article titled "Critics blast Facebook's Zuckerberg for "magical' virtual reality tour of Puerto Rico devastation". Irrespective of how weird the space avatar of Zuckerberg acted or looked in the flooded area, Facebook has been generously donating to help the affected Puerto Rico areas.

"This street is really flooded", added Zuckerberg.

Yes, Facebook's $1.5m donation to the Red Cross is commendable - then again, Jennifer Lopez gave $1m, and she hasn't had a hit song since 2014. The livestream presentation took place at the company's Menlo Park, California headquarters, with the pair wearing Oculus headsets. Further, stressing the importance of the Internet, he said that relief workers should be able to coordinate to find out the spot where people are looking for help.

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