Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg slammed as ‘heartless billionaire’ after Puerto Rico VR live-stream

Zuckerberg used the video to talk about Facebook’s donation to relief efforts and the way it is helping the Red Cross

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 5:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 5:20pm

By Arjun Kharpal

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was called a “heartless billionaire” and accused of “exploiting disaster” by online users after live-streaming a virtual reality (VR) cartoon avatar of himself in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico.

Last month, Puerto Rico was badly hit by Hurricane Maria. Electricity is not up and running yet and millions of citizens are struggling without basic necessities .

Zuckerberg demonstrated Facebook Spaces, a product that allows users to create a 3-D virtual avatar of themselves to use with an Oculus Rift VR headset. It allows people to communicate with each other by having their avatars be in the same space, even if the real people talking are not.

The Facebook boss was virtually transported to Puerto Rico with Rachel Franklin, the head of social VR at the company.

In the video on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg said: “One of the things that’s really magical about virtual reality, is you can get the feeling that you’re really in a place.”

Franklin followed up and said: “Crazy to feel like you’re in the middle of it.”

The comments and the entire video was slammed by users on social media for being tone deaf.

One user on Facebook, Rosaida Castro, commented on the video on Zuckerberg’s page and said: “Is this a joke? The Puerto Ricans are suffering and you are using our tragedy for this?? Heartless billionaire.”

Other users said Zuckerberg was engaging in “voyeuristic tourism.”

Another user Paul Rickett said Zuckerberg “can’t let a good tragedy go to waste. He has to promote Facebook. Typical. All he talks about (is) Facebook instead of victims and their suffering.”

Facebook was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Many other watchers used the opportunity to praise Zuckberg’s efforts in VR, as well as Facebook’s push to help those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

The Facebook CEO talked about features like Safety Check, which allows users on the social network to mark themselves safe when a natural disaster hits. He also said the company had donated over US$1.5 million to the relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

Zuckerberg said that the company was using artificial intelligence (AI) to map the population in Puerto Rico to help the Red Cross identify areas most in need of help.

Read the original article at CNBC