Facebook has a new app called Spaces, which allows users to take virtual reality tours of different locations. So, CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided to show everyone how great it is by taking a virtual trip to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
Users were not pleased. Some social media responses called it tone-deaf, out of touch, and accused Zuckerberg of having awful taste.
The app gives users a character avatar, and they can navigate through the virtual representation of the locations and interact with other users. Zuckerberg and another Facebook employee, Rachel Franklin, marveled at the apps features in a way that struck many users as tone-deaf and offensive when placed quite literally against the backdrop of a destroyed community.
Good intentions, bad imagery
“We can really feel like we’re here,” Franklin said to Zuckerberg, as their virtual avatars appeared to wade through flooded streets.
“I mean, this street is completely flooded,” Zuckerberg added. “Can you guys see this behind me?”
“It’s crazy to feel like you’re in the middle of it,” Franklin concluded.
Virtual Zuckerberg high-fiving in front of flooding in Puerto Rico pic.twitter.com/xoktndyKhH
— pipecork (@pipecork) October 9, 2017
“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,” Zuckerberg wrote.
He’s telling the truth; the first portion of the Puerto Rico tour featured Zuckerberg discussing Facebook’s charitable donations and how the organization is using tech development to aid relief efforts, including a partnership with the Red Cross.