Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been criticized for appearing as a virtual reality cartoon in hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico to promote Facebook’s new VR tool.
Newsweek reports that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been subject to criticism and ridicule, being branded a “heartless billionaire” and accused of engaging in “voyeuristic tourism” after he used the new Facebook VR Spaces tool to depict an avatar of himself standing in the flooded streets of Puerto Rico.
Zuckerberg and Facebook’s head of social virtual reality, Rachel Franklin, both appeared as digital avatars in the demonstration to discuss Facebook’s partnership with NetHope and American Red Cross.
Zuckerberg described how virtual reality is “magical” as it can virtually transport people to disaster zones: “You can get a sense of some of the damage here that Hurricane… that the hurricanes have done. And one of the things that’s really magical about virtual reality is you can get the feeling that you’re really in a place.”
Zuckerberg’s virtual avatar at one point attempted to high five Franklin’s avatar as the two stood in front of Puerto Rican homes destroyed by Hurrican Maria. Many users took issue with the demonstration by commenting on Zuckerberg’s video.
“It’s a little weird that you are using devastation to talk about how cool VR is,” wrote one user. “Is this a joke?” another asked. “Can’t let a good tragedy go to waste. He has to promote Facebook. Typical. All he talks about [is] Facebook instead of victims and their suffering,” commented another.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.