Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Accused Of Exploiting Puerto Rico Disaster Relief Effort For Weak VR Demo
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is catching heat on social media for what some have called a "disgusting" exploitation of the disaster in Puerto Rico to promote his company's virtual reality efforts. The "corporate stunt," as one Twitter user put it, was a demonstration of Facebook Spaces, a service that allows users to create a 3D virtual avatar of themselves to use with Oculus Rift, and communicate with other VR users.
The nearly 10-minute video begins with Zuckerberg and Facebook's head of social VR Rachel Dwyer shown perched atop Facebook's headquarters as they chitchat about VR. Less than a minute into the video, Zuckerberg excitedly says, "This is a big week for virtual reality," noting that Facebook's Oculus Connect 4 event in San Jose is coming up and that Facebook will be announcing some new things.
Normal person Mark Zuckerberg “virtually tours” destruction in Puerto Rico live on Facebook in v cool corporate stunt exploiting disaster https://t.co/WjDmqK8VWV— Loch Jess Monster (@newmanj12) October 9, 2017
Live from virtual reality -- teleporting to Puerto Rico to discuss our partnership with NetHope and American Red Cross to restore connectivity and rebuild communities.Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, October 9, 2017
"This is cute, but not appropriate IMO. But then, I'm 'older' than most of the audience. I don't appreciate the method of communication," a Facebook user wrote in the comment section of Zuckerberg's VR video demonstration. Another user commented, "Amazing technology but still very awkward. What you're talking about is much more meaningful. I feel like the cartoony graphics belittle that."
“Crazy to feel like you’re in the middle of it”, says virtual person with virtual Mark Zuckerberg as he shows photo of Puerto Rico flood pic.twitter.com/N5VzidGU9Y— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) October 9, 2017
Where things fall apart is in the execution. Even accounting for the hypersensitivity that exists on social media, the video demo comes off as being in poor taste with too much promotion and an overly excited tone. That would be acceptable in a different setting, but not when plopped into flooded terrain in a location that was ravaged by a hurricane. We suspect Zuckerberg would like to have a mulligan on this one.