Mark Zuckerberg 'visits' hurricane-hit Puerto Rico in VR promo

Image MARK ZUCKERBERG  FACEBOOK

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. "One of the things that's really magical about VR is you can get the feeling you're really in a place". Because that could actually be helpful?

Using the VR platform known as Facebook Spaces to transport himself to Puerto Rico, Zuckerberg and social VR chief Rachel Franklin discussed the wonders of their technology, including its proprietary Oculus Rift headset.

A cartoonish Mark Zuckerberg avatar made an announcement through Facebook Spaces.

But the video is also cringeworthy: Zuck stops in front of an image of a flooded street and observes "this street is completely flooded", prompting Rubin to say "It's insane to feel like you are here".

Most notably, the entrepreneurial wunderkind detailed how they have been teaming up with the Red Cross by building artificial intelligence which help create population maps, and thus can efficiently allocate resources and assistance.

Zuckerberg also noted that Facebook had already donated more than $1m (£758,000) to relief efforts on the island, and had deployed several employees to the scene to help restore connectivity and support communications. They later visited the virtual moon, but not until a technical glitch interrupted transmissions and kicked them back into reality for a while.

Nevertheless, Zuckerberg referenced the company's efforts in activating functionality like Safety Check so people could alert FB friends that they were safe, while also utilizing Community Help feature to help organize aid efforts in Puerto Rico.

Yes, Facebook's $1.5m donation to the Red Cross is commendable - then again, Jennifer Lopez gave $1m, and she hasn't had a hit song since 2014.

Many citizens in the US-territory are still without power and water three weeks after Hurricane Maria struck the island, and US President Donald Trump has consistently downplayed the damage caused, thus inhibiting relief efforts.

Alison Main of Mashable said "Zuckerberg sending his cartoon avatar to the ravaged streets of Puerto Rico" was a "tone-deaf misstep", and that "he capitalized on a natural disaster to promote his company's new tech". Further, stressing the importance of the Internet, he said that relief workers should be able to coordinate to find out the spot where people are looking for help.

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