What should have been an informational Facebook Live session about the social media site’s social VR tool Spaces ended up being a tone deaf display that some are calling disaster tourism. In a video posted to his account, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg joined by the company’s head of social virtual reality, Rachel Franklin, toured a devastated Puerto Rico as they essentially sold Facebook’s products.
The video begins with Zuckerberg’s and Franklin’s avatars at Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park, California, according to The Guardian. They then “teleported” to Puerto Rico through a 360 video. “We’re on a bridge here,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s flooded. You can get a sense of some of the damage here that hurricane – that the hurricanes have done. One of the things that’s really magical about virtual reality is you can get the feeling that you’re really in a place.”
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
But as Zuckerberg and Franklin insert themselves into this video, the people who surround them are dealing and have dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Regardless of Facebook’s efforts to help the island, this video comes out as incredibly insensitive. Not surprisingly, people were upset.
Mark Zuckerberg talks about the dire situation in Puerto Rico as an AR toon.
"Crazy to feel like we're in the middle of it."
End me. pic.twitter.com/a7mOoCIlHC
— Gene Park (@GenePark) October 9, 2017
— José Luis (@pixiestux) October 10, 2017
No Mames, Mark Zuckerberg: Your Virtual Reality Tour of Puerto Rico Was a Fail https://t.co/nKvlPeFrJh
— Latino Rebels (@latinorebels) October 10, 2017
I see what Zuck was trying to do but when you say stuff like PR is hard to get to and ur a millionaire it's weird. https://t.co/kg2coZJrsG
— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) October 10, 2017
Mark Zuckerberg used devastated Puerto Rico as a prop to tastelessly show off Facebook's new VR tool https://t.co/b0yzuh0ixR
— Select All (@selectall) October 10, 2017