Zucker­berg apol­o­gizes for Puerto Rico VR tour

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Jes­sica Guynn

SAN FRAN­CISCO Mark Zucker­berg apol­o­gized after a livestreamed vir­tual trip to hur­ri­cane-rav­aged Puerto Rico to pro­mote Face­book’s Spa­ces app drew sharp crit­i­cism on so­cial me­dia.

“My goal here was to show how (vir­tual re­al­ity) can raise aware­ness and help us see what’s hap­pen­ing in dif­fer­ent parts of the world. I also wanted to share the news of our part­ner­ship with the Red Cross to help with the re­cov­ery. Read­ing some of the com­ments, I re­al­ize this wasn’t clear, and I’m sorry to any­one this of­fended,” the Face­book CEO wrote.

On Mon­day, Zucker­berg and Rachel Franklin, who runs Face­book’s so­cial vir­tual re­al­ity efforts, em­barked on what they called a “mag­i­cal” tour of Puerto Rico, where many res­i­dents are still with­out power, food, sup­plies and med­i­cal care.

The back­ground was a 360-de­gree video from NPR which showed flooded streets and peo­ple clear­ing de­bris. Face­book’s Spa­ces app lets you cre­ate a 3-D avatar and com­mu­ni­cate with other avatars in a vir­tual space us­ing an Ocu­lus Rift VR head­set.

“One of the things that’s re­ally mag­i­cal about vir­tual re­al­ity is that you can get the feel­ing that you are re­ally in a place,” Zucker­berg’s car­toon avatar says.

Zucker­berg also said Face­book would help build “pop­u­la­tion maps” to help the Red Cross pin­point where help is needed.


Mark Zucker­berg’s “mag­i­cal” tour of hur­ri­cane-rav­aged Puerto Rico to pro­mote Face­book’s Spa­ces app was panned on so­cial me­dia.

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