Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has himself a public relations problem after using the devastation in Puerto Rico to promote a new virtual reality application on the social media platform.
In a live-stream released this week, Zuckerberg appeared as a 3-D Avatar alongside Facebook’s head of social virtual reality Rachel Franklin in the streets of Puerto Rico.
The video shows the Zuckerberg and Franklin avatars conversing as a demonstration of the virtual-reality functions on the site, and they also announce Facebook’s partnership with the Red Cross and NetHope to aid Puerto Rico. Critics say Zuckerberg failed to realize his virtual presence doesn’t mean much to those affected by the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
“You can get a sense of some of the damage here that hurricane … that the hurricanes have done,” Zuckerberg said. “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.”
Social media users, some of them Facebook users, found the demo to show a lack of class on Zuckerberg’s part. They pointed out that the Facebook founder wasn’t really in Puerto Rico and therefore he wasn’t in his second week without power on an island where 44 percent of the population doesn’t have clean drinking water.
Comments included: “It’s a little weird that you are using devastation to talk about how cool VR is;” another person wrote “Is this a joke?” and, “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.”
Meanwhile, there were more than 50,000 comments on the live-stream which included positive support and criticism for Zuckerberg’s role in spreading Russian fake news during the 2016 election.
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