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.”
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.