The Facebook founder used the company’s “Spaces” VR app to tour an NPR-made 360-degree video of Puerto Rico to highlight the devastation that is reeling the country. While his intentions may have been good, the app’s use of inserting a cartoon avatar of Zuck into it came off as trite and insulting to many viewers, reports TechCrunch. Zuck didn’t help matters any when he remarked in the video, “It’s crazy to feel like you’re in the middle of it”–something anyone actually living through the devastation would probably disagree with. Zuck ended his VR tour by asking another Facebook employee cartoon avatar, “Do you want to teleport somewhere else?” who answered, “Yeah, maybe back to California?”
After many commenters pointed out how offensive his VR tour was, Zuck issued an apology in the comments:
One of the most powerful features of VR is empathy. My goal here was to show how VR 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.
He also added:
When you’re in VR yourself, the surroundings feel quite real. But that sense of empathy doesn’t extend well to people watching you as a virtual character on a 2D screen. That’s something we’ll need to work on over time.
You can check out Zuck’s VR tour in question below.
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